Some of ESPN investigative reporter Paula Lavigne’s stories have, in part, led to changes across college campuses, most recently with the firing of Baylor football coach Art Briles and other changes at the school.
Continuing ESPN’s penchant for impact journalism, Sunday’s Outside the Lines (9 a.m. ET, ESPN) features two former Indiana University student-athletes telling Lavigne how the University’s medical staff neglected their injuries and affected their futures. That same medical department will face a restructuring later this month due to the school’s own discoveries.
“We found that Indiana also conducted at least two investigations, one with the football players and one with the rowing team,” said Lavigne. “Because of a number of investigations, the school says they are restructuring their medical staff which will go into effect on May 1.”
Lavigne said it was fortuitous timing because while working on this story, the NCAA and National Athletic Training Association were drafting legislation to address concerns that coaches were influencing medical care and that team physicians needed to be empowered to make decisions that were in the best interest of the athletes. “In that conversation, there was a lot of talk about the importance of the team doctors being the lead decision-makers,” she said. “When Indiana football coach Kevin Wilson was asked to resign, a number of players came out and said he was berating them – especially the injured players – and we thought that this may be worth looking into.”
As Lavigne was researching Indiana’s medical director for athletics, Dr. Andy Hipskind, she discovered some interesting details.
“I came across a complaint that a student-athlete had filed against him with the state of Indiana and that was actually a precursor to a medical malpractice lawsuit,” Lavigne said. “This was a member of the women’s rowing team, so that changed the conversation for us. ‘Can you peg this all on one coach [Kevin Wilson] or is this really the responsibility of the medical staff at Indiana?’”
Lavigne hopes this story will help college athletic programs to listen to athletes and address their injuries before it’s too late.
“[The athletes’] goal in speaking out is that they want college athletic programs, not just Indiana, to take injured athletes at their word and not to shame them for having injuries,” Lavigne said. “A couple of these athletes had to go to outside physicians to get a diagnosis and with all the money that is coming into these programs and the commitment that these athletes have made to these programs, they want to be able to seek athletic care within their program.”