An Ohio coroner on Monday ordered a special examination to look for signs of traumatic brain injury in the Ohio State football player who apparently shot himself to death.
The body of the player, Kosta Karageorge, was found in a trash bin on Sunday. His mother, Susan, told police that her son had suffered several concussions and had bouts of extreme confusion.
She said he sent her a text message four days before his body was found, saying that concussions had messed up his head. “I am sorry if I am an embarrassment,” the text said.
The coroner, Dr. Anahi Ortiz of Franklin County, told NBC News that the special examination, in which a pathologist will examine slides from the player’s brain, was not routine but has been conducted in other cases.
In this case, she said, it was because of Karageorge’s reported history of concussions and because he played football and wrestled.
Earlier on Monday, Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer said he had been told not to talk about Karageorge’s medical history. A team doctor has also said he cannot comment on the medical care of athletes.
The Ohio State wrestling coach told The Columbus Dispatch that Karageorge, who wrestled for the Buckeyes for three years, had no documented concussions.
Meyer called the apparent suicide an "incredible tragedy."
"We’ll never get over it," he said.
Karageorge was a walk-on and was recognized Saturday on Senior Day as the Buckeyes beat archrival Michigan. Ohio State plays for the Big Ten championship this weekend. “To overcome the incredible tragedy that happened last night this is a real challenge,” Meyer said.
A growing body of research shows that repeated concussions can cause permanent brain damage, and organized football has come under criticism for ignoring the danger for too long.
A federal judge has given preliminary approval to a settlement under which the NFL would pay thousands of former players for concussion claims. She did so only after the NFL agreed to remove a $675 million cap on damages.
In college sports, the NCAA has proposed spending $70 million on a program that would monitor athletes for brain trauma.
And The Associated Press reported over the weekend that a former high school quarterback in Illinois is suing a state governing body for not doing enough to protect him from concussions. The organization says reducing concussion risk is a priority.
Ohio State students said Monday they were saddened by the death.
“It’s really disheartening to see that someone at, you know, one of the happiest and best universities in the country felt like that, and then didn’t realize or didn’t want to take advantage of the resources that we have possible here,” said Josh Ahart, who is studying public affairs. “So we need to do better as a university and as a family.”
OSU Student Body President Celia Wright, a senior studying public health, called the entire episode "disturbing."
"Partly because it was such a high-profile thing," said Wright, "and partly because he seemed to define what we as a society envision as healthy."
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