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Former Texas A&M trainer says coaches pressured him to rush players back onto field

In an interview with HBO’s Real Sports, former Texas A&M trainer Karl Kapchinski said he was pressured by coaches to “get good players back” onto the playing field before they were medically cleared.

HBO provided a transcript of the interview with the Austin American-Statesman.

JON FRANKEL: “Did you ever feel pressured to return a player to the field before you thought he was ready,”
KARL KAPCHINSKI: “I would say yes.”

KARL KAPCHINSKI: “While we’re considered part of the medical staff in a lotta cases, the head coach just sees you basically, in some cases, being subservient to his situation.”
JON FRANKEL: “Did you ever have a coach say to you, ‘I need this kid back?’”
KARL KAPCHINSKI: “Yes. They would always, you know, tend to put pressure on you to get good players back.”
JON FRANKEL: “Is there anybody you put back into a game and you said, ‘Mm, I wish I hadn’t done that?’”
JON FRANKEL: “Because it went against your better judgment, or because it resulted in the player limpin’ off the field two plays later?”
KARL KAPCHINSKI: “Because it resulted in the player having a subsequent injury.”
JON FRANKEL: “If you said to a coach, ‘Coach, I know we said it was gonna be four weeks, but we need an extra week.’ What would the coach say to you?”

KARL KAPCHINSKI: “You would be challenged on your character, your credentials. You know, maybe you were the wrong guy for the job.”

KARL KAPCHINSKI: “There’s been a lotta great quality athletic trainers that have subsequently lost their jobs because they stood up for the players or were doing the right thing.”

Kapchinski was Texas A&M’s head athletics trainer for 31 years before an abrupt firing on Nov. 1, 2013 for what then-athletics director Eric Hyman wrote as “unacceptable job performance.” Kapchinski has since filed a civil suit for age-based discrimination against the university.

Kapchinski was honored for his work by the Big 12 Conference in 1999 and 2000, earned a Division 1 Collegiate Athletic Trainer of the Year award in 2005 and entered the Southwest Athletic Trainers Hall of Fame in 2014.

As A&M’s assistant athletics director for athletic training, Kapchinski oversaw the Aggies’ 20 teams, though a San Antonio Express-News report stated his involvement with Kevin Sumlin‘s football program became minimal before his 2013 firing.