State News

Ex-coach says NC A&T made him scapegoat in athlete's death

Posted January 12, 2011 3:57 p.m. EST
Updated January 12, 2011 5:01 p.m. EST

— The former track coach at North Carolina A&T State University has denied allegations that he violated policies last summer, resulting in the death of a student from Knightdale.

In an undated letter to N.C. A&T Chancellor Harold Martin obtained by WRAL News on Wednesaday, Roy Thompson said he conducted orientation sessions before fall track tryouts for years and that university officials were aware of the practice and never expressed any concern.

Jospin Milandu, 20, of Knightdale collapsed during an Aug. 19 session. An autopsy determined Milandu died of complications of sickle cell trait.

About 8 percent of the country's black population have the blood trait. They are at risk of red blood cells clumping during intense exercise into sickle shapes that block blood flow to muscles and cause them to break down rapidly.

An NCAA rule implemented Aug. 1 requires students trying out or participating in Division I sports to be tested for the blood trait, show proof of a test or sign a waiver. Milandu did not have a physical, a sickle cell test or an NCAA waiver on file.

N.C. A&T's chief athletics trainer, Roland Lovelace, sent an e-mail to coaches on Aug. 17 asking them to test only after students made their teams to cut costs, Thompson said in his letter.

Thompson, who retired Dec. 1, said university officials conducted only a cursory investigation into Milandu's death and never retracted statements blaming track officials for the incident.

"The university knowingly made false statements to the public, despite being made aware on numerous occasions I did not violate any policies and I followed proper university and NCAA procedures," he wrote. "The university did so in effort to use me as a 'scapegoat' instead of properly addressing that athletic department’s profound inadequacies relating to personnel, competency and policies."