Super Bowl seminar canceled; bounty scandal to blame?

Print
Email
|

wwltv.com

Posted on January 30, 2013 at 11:34 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 30 at 11:42 PM

Meg Farris / Eyewitness News
Email: mfarris@wwltv.com | Twitter: @megfarriswwl

NEW ORLEANS -- A seminar on the effects of concussions was scheduled during Super Bowl week for LSU and Tulane medical students, but the event was suddenly cancelled.

And the reasons are linked to the Saints bounty scandal.

Former Saints player Kyle Turley plans to donate his brain to medical research on repeated head trauma. He was one of the speakers behind the event.

But just days before Thursday's seminar, med students emailed Channel 4 disappointed, asking why was it canceled with no explanation.

"We felt that that was a significant safety issue for our students," said Dr. Steve Nelson, dean of the LSU School of Medicine.

Student organizers promised the appearance of a surprise guest, a filmmaker who planned to premiere his new documentary there. No one knew the content.

But as Eyewitness News learned, that guest was Sean Pamphilon.

A controversial figure among Saints fans, Pamphilon in 2012 released a recording of former Saints Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams telling players to cause pain to the 49ers.

It was a recording made during a production about former Saint Steve Gleason, who now has ALS.

LSU Health Sciences Center gave Eyewitness News a copy of the email exclusively. It's from a student organizer of the event whose name has been removed. The email explains explicitly why the name of the filmmaker is not to be made public.

It reads that Pamphilon is worried about the safety of his family while he is in New Orleans and that he has made serious enemies around here.

The medical student writes that the reason for the fear is that the idea that football must be fundamentally changed is very unpopular and controversial in this region.

LSU says its only concern is protecting students from potential harm. University police were consulted but the dean and chancellor made the decision.

LSUHSC has major ongoing studies on brain injury in its Neuroscience Center of Excellence with Dr. Nicolas Bazan, and with hyperbaric oxygen treatments with Drs. Paul Harch and Keith Van Meter.

A graduate student in public health, Christopher Freeman, led an effort resulting in a new law to prevent serious injury to young athletes from concussion.

The dean says he explained the reason to student leaders, and there was never pressure from the NFL or state to sweep this topic under the AstroTurf because it was Super Bowl week.

"Nothing could be further from the truth. One of the team physicians for the Saints is (Dr.) John Amos, who is one of my residents. And I've had conversations with him about trying to do more studies on this," said Dr. Nelson.

Kyle Turley tweeted suggesting ignorance around the issue was in play.

"I'm very disappointed that he thinks that that's the case, because health care is what we're dedicated to, not publicity," responded Dr. Nelson.

The students asked Tulane Medical School for an alternative venue for Thursday's meeting. Its med school said "yes."

"I think it's very important to get the word out that concussions are serious. I think that, I know in Louisiana, the High School Athletic Association, we at Tulane, the NFL, are all very serious and very concerned about concussion and the long term implications, and are trying to do whatever we can to prevent, and part of prevention is education," said Dr. Gregory Stewart, the director of the Neurologlical Care Programs at he Tulane Institute of Sports Medicine.

It is unclear if Tulane knew about the filmmaker's appearance and it is still unclear if the controversial guest will go to Tulane.

A Tulane spokesman now says the event is open only to medical students.

We emailed some of the student leaders for a comment but did not hear back by air time.

 

Print
Email
|