Congressman Chris Smith said that the legalistic stonewalling on the part of Garden City Community College “begs the question of a cover-up” of wrong doing or negligence regarding the death of 19 year old football player Braeden Bradforth.
Smith held a press conference on Friday with Bradforth’s mother, Joanne Atkins-Ingram and her attorney, Jill E. Green, to demand that GCCC President Ryan Ruda keep his word and disclose what happened to cause Bradforth’s death following a football practice on August 1, 2018 during his second day as a member of the Kansas school’s team.
“From day one, I’ve just been trying to find out what happened to my son, and I have not been able to get those answers,”Atkins-Ingram stated on Friday. “We need to prevent this from happening to anyone else, because the way my son died was totally preventable.”
“It should have been a given that the college would have been absolutely transparent, because they bragged about that in the beginning; and that they would provide information, that any question she might have should be answered, and then some—a full explanation,”Smith said. “And that has not happened.”
“There are all kinds of questions swirling around, and no answers. Instead, lawyering up and deferring questions to the attorney at the college—I think that’s, frankly, outrageous,”Smith said. “And if you’re going to have transparency, open up and let them know what happened. If mistakes were made, bear responsibility for that and ensure it never happens again.”
Smith highlighted the contrast in how the University of Maryland handled the tragic death of their student-athlete, Jordan McNair, last spring to how Garden City Community College handled Bradforth’s death.
Maryland hired an independent expert, Dr. Rod Walters, to investigate McNairs death, as well as the procedures and protocols for athletes’ training and conditioning. They shared Walters’s report with the world.
In contrast, GCCC’s head coach lied to the press about the cause of Bradforth’s death and then took another job. GCCC’s president, Ryan Ruda, promised complete information to Atkins-Ingram and then reneged on his word after talking to his lawyers and insurance company. GCCC destroyed video of Bradforth’s last moments alive and are refusing to disclose the results of the investigation they claim to have made.
Smith said that he will initiate an investigation by the GAO into the practices of high school and college scholastic sports regarding the heath and well being of student athletes and that he expects to propose legislation.