Lousiville, Ky. A former Kentucky high school football coach was found not guilty Thursday in the death of a player who collapsed at a practice where the team was put through a series of sprints on a hot summer day.
Attorneys said the case was the first time a football coach was charged in the death of a player. It was closely watched by those involved in youth athletics and has already resulted in changes to Kentucky law and other efforts to make practices safer for athletes.
Former Pleasure Ridge Park High School coach David Jason Stinson, 37, was charged after 15-year-old Max Gilpin collapsed at an August 2008 practice as the team ran a series of sprints known as “gassers.” He died three days later at a Louisville hospital of heat stroke, sepsis and multiple organ failure. His temperature reached at least 107 degrees.
The jury deliberated for about 90 minutes, and Stinson hugged defense attorney Brian Butler after the verdict was read.
“That’s why they came back quickly, because he was innocent,” said Butler, who characterized the charges of reckless homicide and wanton endangerment as a “witch hunt.” Stinson left without speaking to reporters.
During the trial, players said Stinson ordered the gassers as punishment for the lack of effort they showed at practice on a day where the temperature and heat index were both 94 degrees.
Prosecutors relied on a series of Gilpin’s teammates who testified that several teens became ill during the gassers, vomiting or bowing out with ailments.
Several experts testified that Gilpin suffered from exertional heat stroke, which led to his death. One witness, University of Connecticut associate professor Douglas Casa, testified Gilpin could have been saved if he’d been immersed in ice water almost immediately after collapsing.
Stinson’s defense relied on players who testified that they only ran a few more wind sprints than normal that day. Three of Gilpin’s classmates, along with his stepmother, testified that Gilpin complained of not feeling well throughout the day he collapsed.
Royals, Crow agree
Kansas City, Mo. — The Kansas City Royals have reached agreement on a three-year, major-league contract with first-round draft pick Aaron Crow, the former standout pitcher at Missouri.
Terms of the deal announced Thursday were not disclosed. The contract takes effect in 2010. Crow was the 12th overall selection in this year’s draft. The Royals planned to introduce him today at Kauffman Stadium.
The right-handed Crow was the Big 12 Pitcher of the Year in 2008 after going 13-0 in 15 starts for Missouri. He finished that season with a 2.35 earned-run average and 127 strikeouts.
Bonds evidence sought
San Francisco — Federal prosecutors urged a federal appellate court to reverse a trial judge and let them present critical evidence they say shows Barry Bonds knowingly used steroids.
Both sides fielded difficult questions Thursday from the three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In a case stemming from Bonds’ grand jury testimony in December 2003, the home run king pleaded not guilty to 10 counts of making false statements and one count of obstruction of justice.
Okafor back with Nebraska
Lincoln, Neb. — Running back Collins Okafor is back with the Nebraska football team. Okafor was at practice with the Cornhuskers on Thursday, a day after coach Bo Pelini announced the redshirt freshman had left the team on his own volition. Okafor did not play in the first two games this season.
Ex-Lions coach Clark dies
Detroit — Monte Clark, who coached the Detroit Lions for seven years and led them to the playoffs in 1982 and 1983, has died. He was 72. He died Wednesday night at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, the team said Thursday. He had a bone marrow malignancy associated with lung and liver disease.
Clark was the offensive line coach for the Miami Dolphins team that went 17-0 in 1972. He became the Lions’ coach in 1978.
Texans CB fined $25,000
Houston — Houston Texans cornerback Dunta Robinson has been fined $25,000 by the team for the “pay me Rick” shoes he wore during Sunday’s game. The shoes targeted general manager Rick Smith. Robinson has said that he and the Texans were unable to reach a long-term contract despite signing his franchise tender more than a week ago.
McNabb might play
Philadelphia — The Eagles aren’t giving up hope of having Donovan McNabb on the field when they play their home opener Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. McNabb made a brief appearance on the practice field Thursday afternoon but did not take part in any drills, after fracturing his rib on a touchdown run late in Philadelphia’s 38-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers last weekend.
Kim, Shin tied for lead
San Diego — Song-Hee Kim and Jiyai Shin each shot a 6-under 66 to share the lead atop the elite 20-player field in the opening round of the Samsung World Championship on Thursday at Torrey Pines. Top-ranked Lorena Ochoa of Mexico and Sophie Gustafson of Sweden were one stroke behind the leaders.
Refs: Lockout likely
New York — The lead negotiator and spokesman for the NBA’s referees union says a lockout appears “imminent and unavoidable” following the latest breakdown in talks.
Lamell McMorris says the officials made another $1 million in concessions in a proposal Thursday, but believes it’s evident the league is not interested in further discussions. The officials then headed home after spending the last 24 hours meeting in Chicago.
The contract between the NBA and its officials expired Sept. 1.
Federer fined $1,500
New York — Roger Federer has been fined $1,500 for using a profanity while arguing with the chair umpire during the U.S. Open final. CBS microphones picked up the exchange during its live broadcast of the match.