Coaches encouraged to know CPR

Updated: August 13, 2014, 5:03 PM ET
By Andy Katz | ESPN.com

Division I head coaches and their assistants, as well as any other full-time coaches, are being encouraged to be certified in CPR and to know how to use an automatic external defibrillator.

The Big East conference's amendment to the NCAA's committee on competitive safeguards and medical aspects of sports amended an original rule that said all coaches must have current certification in first aid, CPR and AED use to say that a certified staff member must be present at any physical countable athletic activity on campus.

While coaches don't have to be certified, many are taking the step to do so since they could end up being a first responder.

"I think it's a great rule,'' said Iowa State men's basketball coach Fred Hoiberg, whose pacemaker, which was inserted after he had heart surgery in 2005, was replaced last month.

"It could affect the health and well-being of the student-athletes. Several sports don't have a trainer at every practice, so this empowers the coaches in catastrophic situations. And, yes, I am certified."

Danny Berger, a former Utah State player, collapsed on the court during practice on Dec. 4, 2013. Utah State trainer Mike Williams used a defibrillator to save Berger's life.

Now, Berger's former head coach, Utah State's Stew Morrill, will need to be certified, too.

"I'm getting certified this month," Morrill said. "It's a good thing, but we still want a trainer. We would have lost our kid two years ago without one."

A year ago, a similar situation occurred at Wichita State. Freshman D.J. Bowles collapsed in practice on Sept. 3, 2013, and Wichita State trainer Todd Fagan saved his life. Like Berger, Bowles had an internal defibrillator implanted.

Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall, who witnessed Bowles collapsing in practice that day, said, "It's an excellent idea. I have been meaning to go get certified, but now I will be required to fit it in."

Michigan State coach Tom Izzo was also on board with the rule change, but said he wasn't sure what the liability would be yet. Izzo also said he is certified now.

Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione added that most high-profile programs have trainers at every workout, but that's not the case with other lower-level sports, making it even more imperative for those coaches to be certified in case of an emergency.

"It can only be a good skill to have around any time where student-athletes are training or competing, not to mention any time one is in the presence of people in any setting," Castiglione said.

Former Baylor big man Isaiah Austin had to retire from basketball in June after he was diagnosed with Marfan syndrome -- a condition which leads to aortic enlargement. The revelation of Austin's condition after he stopped playing at Baylor increased the need even more for the coaching staff to be certified.

"It is good for coaches to know," Baylor coach Scott Drew said. "I haven't (been certified yet). At most bigger schools, we have trainers always at workouts and practices that obviously know how to do both, so it probably wasn't as big of a necessity that the coaches know it."

Being certified gives coaches -- in all sports -- another level of defense if a trainer or medical personnel isn't on site as a first responder.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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