The commitment of Steven Clark prior to the 2015 season came as a pleasant surprise to many Syracuse fans and now his Orange career came to an abrupt end after just two seasons. He was medically disqualified after Syracuse football ruled that he is at risk of getting further blood clots after he was hospitalized months ago.
Now, Clark has been granted permission by the University to pursue other options and transfer to another school. While this may prove to be great for Clark, it also raises questions about the way that Syracuse reaches its decisions in terms of its players health. This is not the first time that Orange have medically disqualified a player who did not feel that he was not fit to play. Former Syracuse quarterback A.J. Long was disqualified by the University after being diagnosed with his third concussion since joining the Orange. This came after the Orange instituted a policy which would disqualify any player that is diagnosed with three concussions while enrolled.
The Clark incident goes further than this because there was not a clear-cut rule in place regarding Clark’s condition. Clark and his father claim that Steven got blood clots after team doctors fit him for a brace that was “too tight” causing his blood to clot. When he was hospitalized, scans revealed that he had a genetic condition which could cause future blood clots. Clark and his father argue that the risk is minimal and sought other opinions but now it is clear that if he wants to be college football again, it will have to be somewhere other than Syracuse.
The fact that Clark has the option to transfer on the table suggests that other schools’ team doctors may not feel that Clark is not healthy enough to play. Therefore, logic would suggest that Syracuse has tighter regulations on their players’ health that goes beyond just the concussion rule. It is understandable and to a certain extent admirable, that Syracuse has taken such a strong stance in order to protect their players. However, if other schools are willing to take on these players, who is the wrong? There might not be a right answer but the fact that the Orange seem to fall on the stricter side of medical enforcement is certainly something to keep an eye on in the future. Maybe, the game as a whole will follow a path more similar to Syracuse.