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Harty: McCall’s medical hardship case not up to him

[ 4 ] November 16, 2011 |

Allow me to clarify my position on Iowa freshman running back Mika’il McCall because I previously made it sound as if all he had to do is sit out the rest of the season to gain a redshirt status.

It’s not quite that simple.

And it won’t be Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz that makes the final decision; or anybody associated with the University of Iowa for that matter.

It’ll be a panel of doctors representing the Big Ten Conference that would make the final determination based on medical reports submitted by the UI medical staff.

And it won’t be a redshirt, but rather a medical hardship that McCall would seek in order to gain a fourth year of eligibility.

“What people don’t really take into account is what the NCAA rules say regarding the stipulations surrounding a hardship waiver,” said Fred Mims, UI Associate Director of Athletics. “There are certain questions that need to be answered. There are certain things that have to be addressed and numbers placed on this particular waiver request in order for the committee to consider it.

“There are other compelling reasons. Who knows what they might do. But they hear it all based on a medical diagnosis and we have to look at that and to see if we would submit something or not submit something.”

McCall would easily meet one of the main requirements for a medical hardship – which is the number of games played – if he doesn’t play again this season. He only played in less than one half of the season opener against Tennessee Tech before suffering an ankle injury.

“If you take everything out of it and say he doesn’t compete again, it appears that he would be eligible for the hardship waiver,” Mims said of the 6-foot, 215-pound McCall. “But again, it’s going to come down to what the doctors attach to and put in writing that goes to the committee of doctors and that they feel is compelling enough to grant that.”

What I meant to say is that Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz should withhold McCall from playing for the rest of the season in order for McCall to meet one of the main requirements for a medical hardship. McCall would lose any chance for a medical hardship if he plays again this season, which continues on Saturday with a game at Purdue.

And as much as I hate saying this as a member of the media, Ferentz should refrain from saying anything publicly about McCall’s health status because common sense tells you that McCall’s quest for a medical hardship would be jeopardized if the committee had reason to believe that he was healthy enough to play by the eighth game against Minnesota.

It could be a case where Ferentz knows that McCall isn’t healthy enough to compete and has the paperwork to prove it, but it still doesn’t hurt giving the media and the opponent something to think about. Ferentz said for the first time that McCall received medical clearance prior to the Minnesota game on Oct. 29. McCall also traveled to Minneapolis and dressed for the Minnesota game, but he didn’t play.

He also dressed for each of the past two games against Michigan and Michigan State with Ferentz saying that he planned to use McCall in both games.

But Ferentz didn’t use McCall, leaving the door open for a medical hardship.

“I’m not going to comment on what (Ferentz’s) comments were or what not because I haven’t read them and I haven’t received anything from the doctors in regard to (McCall’s) status medically, so I can’t comment on that, either,” Mims said.

Mims also would neither confirm nor deny if he knew whether McCall had received medical clearance.

The fact that McCall dressed for each of the past three games doesn’t necessarily mean that he has been cleared medically.

“He may be impaired, but he can’t play,” Mims said of McCall. “It may be a morale thing. Who knows?”

McCall lost his chance for a redshirt the moment he played in the season opener. Many people, including myself, often call it a medical redshirt when a player is granted another season of eligibility despite having participated in a certain number of games the previous season when the correct terminology is a medical hardship.

“The redshirt is when you don’t play at all, you’re held out, and a hardship is when you play in a (certain) number of contests and you’re injured and precluded from continuing that season and then you can seek a waiver on behalf of the injury or illness,” Mims said.

So the best way to describe McCall’s situation is that he would be eligible to apply for a medical hardship if he doesn’t play again this season. And under the circumstances, that would seem like the best option.

But the fact that Ferentz already has said publicly that McCall received medical clearance makes you wonder if that’ll come back to haunt Iowa in this case.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Pat Harty: Columnist Pat Harty has been covering the Iowa Hawkeyes for the Press-Citizen since 1991. Originally from Des Moines, he currently writes columns and covers Hawkeye men's basketball for Hawk Central. View author profile.

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