COLUMBIA — Tipton High School football player Chad Stover died Thursday morning at University Hospital after sustaining brain injuries in an Oct. 31 playoff game. The Missouri State High School Activities Association is treating Stover's death as an accident and will not investigate further, communications director Jason West said.
"There was a terrible accident, and we are not looking for foul play," West said. "There is nothing to look into."
Youth football safety: Pros in the NFL know the game's risks: the potential for brain trauma. Some would say it’s the price they pay to play the game. The same can be said for football players in college and, possibly, high school. But how about the third-grader eager to strap on a helmet for the first time? Youth football is about the kids, but many adults are heavily invested. So how do you make it safer without castrating the game? (This story requires a Missourian digital membership.)
After speaking to school officials in the days following Stover's hospitalization, West said the MSHSAA was sure that all safety procedures were followed.
However, the MHSAA is unclear as to the specifics surrounding his death. West said the MSHSAA is giving Stover's family and the community time before asking any more questions.
"We know it’s a close-knit community, and we want to give them time to assimilate to where they are at and have the understanding to redress what has happened," West said.
There will be discussions, though, taking place within the association's Sports Medicine Advisory Committee and within Sacred Heart High School, where the game was played. West said that the association and the school hope to review the return-to-play and concussion policies, as well as the school's emergency action plans.
Some of the discussion will surround emergency procedures that require ambulances. Stover was transported to a hospital by ambulance, but there was no ambulance at the game where he was injured.
"The only requirement is that the school have a plan in place if an ambulance is needed," West said. "It is a recommendation to have them on-site. They just need to be able to have access to them."
Stover, 17, had been hospitalized for two weeks prior to his death, as reported by The Associated Press. The exact cause of death should be known after his autopsy is concluded, coroner Robert Smith said. At this point in the autopsy, Smith said he thought Stover died because of a head injury.
Stover is not the only teen this year to die from football-related injuries. Charles Youvella, a high school senior from Arizona, died Monday night because of a head injury, two days after he was tackled in a game. Damon Janes, a 16-year-old from New York, died in September after receiving a helmet-to-helmet hit.
Janes' death was at least the fifth football-related death this year, The Associated Press reported.
Supervising editor is Sasu Siegelbaum.