The family of GCCC football player Braden Bradforth, who died suddenly in August 2018 after his first day of practice at the college, has received and is reviewing the final report of an independent, GCCC-sanctioned investigation into Bradforth’s death.

GCCC Board of Trustees chairman Blake Wasinger announced the college would send the report to Bradforth’s family after an executive session with counsel at Tuesday’s board meeting. Following the meeting, he told the Telegram that the college must consult with the family about medical information included in the report before making it available to the public.

“The GCCC administration and Board of Trustees believe it is important that this information be shared with Braeden’s family in an effort to respectfully communicate all of the information that GCCC has about Braeden’s unfortunate passing directly to his family and loved ones. GCCC is hopeful that the report will serve to answer any questions that still remain for Braeden’s family and continues to extend condolences following the tragedy,” Wasinger said in the statement.

Jill Greene, attorney for Bradforth’s mother, Joanne Atkins-Ingram, said Wednesday that she had received the report from the college and that she and Atkins-Ingram were in the process of reviewing it together.

Following the family’s review, GCCC President Ryan Ruda said the college won't post the report to its website as it did with the report of a previous investigation in December, and that members of the media or public who want a copy of the report must submit a formal Kansas Open Records Act request to the college.

Wasinger and Ruda declined to discuss details or key takeaways of the report on Tuesday, though Ruda said the investigation revealed no new information.

U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, a congressman from Bradforth’s home state of New Jersey who has been openly critical of GCCC, released a public statement about the report on Wednesday, calling the release of the report to the family “expected and ... appreciated.”’

In August, Smith introduced a bill in Bradforth’s honor that would establish a commission to investigate exertional heat stroke cases among student athletes and research best practice recommendations for prevention, recognition and treatment, according to the statement.

“Braeden’s family has suffered tremendously since his death, and we will be scrutinizing the report to see what improvements and protocols can be made in athletic programs around the country so that no more student athletes die from the completely preventable exertional heat stroke,” Smith said in the statement. “A mother’s love for her son moved the college to reverse its bunker mentality and conduct an independent investigation of the circumstances that led to his death, and the college has appeared to have made some changes.”

The college emphasized those changes in a news release following the board meeting Tuesday, stating the college has updated processes and procedures across the campus since the summer of 2018, when Bradforth suddenly died.

According to the release, such changes that directly affect GCCC athletics include the establishment in August of GCCC Sports Medicine Advisory Team meetings, where Ruda, GCCC vice president for student services and assistant athletic director Colin Lamb, GCCC athletic director Greg McVey, team physicians, GCCC athletic trainers, the head athletic trainer at St. Catherine Hospital and a GCCC nurse meet monthly to discuss practice and game coverage, cleanliness of the athletic training room, CPR and first aid training, emergency action plans, a checklist of items for football practice, injury reporting and physicals.

Also included in the list of changes that impact the athletic program are the August 2018 hiring of a third full-time athletic trainer, the September 2018 hiring of a new public relations director, and the January 2019 hiring of a new strength and conditioning coach to plan and oversee conditioning programs.

All coaching staff are also now required to complete first aid and CPR training each year, the Athletic Department must conduct immediate follow up welfare checks with players who leave practices, athletic staff are more aware of heat-related illnesses and practice times are changed for heat, according to the release. Additional ice bath tubs and coordinating tents for practices and games have also been purchased.

On top of that, the college has drafted and begun to review an Athletic Training Policies and Procedures Manual, and team physicians and athletic trainers have begun thoroughly reviewing student-athletes' physicals before any athletic activity, according to the release.

Campus police also added a personnel position in order to move closer to 24/7 coverage and administrators have held primary conversations about the renovation and updates to athletic training facilities, according to the news release.

Following Tuesday’s meeting, Ruda said the college has been working on changing policies and processes before the independent investigation had been planned and staff would continue to have those conversations in the wake of the third-party report. According to the review, GCCC’s sports medicine advisory team and athletic director’s office will “consider any further recommendations for improvements of processes, procedures, or facilities which would directly benefit the safety, health, and security of GCCC student-athletes.”

 

Contact Amber Friend at afriend@gctelegram.com.