The University Record, January 14, 1998

U acts to promote wrestling safety

U-M wrestlers will no longer be allowed to use rubber suits and other vapor-impermeable coverings. File photo by Bob Kalmbach

By Jane R. Elgass

A task force convened following the death in December of wrestler Jeff Reese has made seven recommendations to promote wrestling safety.

Reese collapsed and died Dec. 9 while trying to lose weight for a match the next day. He was wearing a rubber suit in a superheated room while engaging in strenuous exercise.

Washtenaw County Chief Medical Examiner ruled Reese's death accidental, and Washtenaw County Prosecuting Attorney Brian Mackie found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing in the 21-year-old athlete's death.

"We established the task force to focus on how we can make the sport safer," said Athletic Director Tom Goss in late December. "With these recommendations, we have come up with steps we will implement immediately. We wanted to do this quickly to make sure something was in place before our student-athletes return to competition."

The seven recommendations are:

  • Vapor-impermeable suit covers (plastics, rubber suits, nylon) are prohibited.
  • The sauna will not be used the day of weigh-in and its use will be limited to "safe and therapeutic" practice. In no case is it to be used for dehydration purposes.
  • A weight assessment and monitoring program will be instituted, with each wrestler's weight recorded daily.
  • On weigh-in day, all activity will be supervised and a trainer will be present until all weigh-ins are completed.
  • Weigh-ins will occur head-to-head with opponents one to three hours prior to competition by mutual agreement, as permitted by current NCAA rules.
  • A mandatory nutrition education program for coaches, student-athletes and trainers will be developed.
  • A self-report process for violations, covering student-athletes, athletic trainers, coaches and administrative staff, will be instituted.