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Existing condition, stress led to player's death

ORLANDO — A UCF football player who died after spring drills had a pre-existing medical condition worsened by physical stress, autopsy results released Thursday showed.

The Orange County Medical Examiner's Office said Ereck Plancher, 19, had a sickle-cell trait that caused problems with his red blood cells during physical exertion. The exam showed Plancher's heart began beating abnormally, and blood flow to his muscles and organs slowed or stopped.

Investigators found no trauma to the body and no illegal drugs or toxins.

Plancher, a wide receiver, collapsed in March, the day before spring practice was to begin. UCF says he received CPR from trainers and was rushed to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Coach George O'Leary said his team is still mourning the loss. Players will wear a helmet decal in memory of Plancher, whose cousin Moise is a running back at USF.

The Orlando Sentinel reported that Ereck Plancher was visibly struggling during practice and that players accused O'Leary of berating Plancher for not trying hard enough. O'Leary and the school have called that report false.

The Plancher family could not be reached for comment about the autopsy results Thursday but previously told the Sentinel they would wait for the autopsy before deciding on taking legal action.

Long way from Miami: Former Parade All-America linebacker Willie Williams was arrested 11 times before playing a down in college. He played in 10 games as a freshman at Miami, transferred to West Los Angeles Community College for one season, ended up at Louisville in 2007 and played three games before being kicked off the team after his arrest on drug charges. Now he has landed at Division II Glenville State in Charleston, W.Va., a town with 1,500 people and in a county with two grocery stores. "I'm used to the University of Miami and Louisville — the big things. But sometimes good things come in small packages," said Williams, who is a senior on scholarship with plans to graduate next year.

Men's basketball: Center Zisis Sarikopoulos, a 7-footer, has transferred from Alabama-Birmingham to Ohio State and will have three seasons of eligibility after he sits out a season, Buckeyes coach Thad Matta announced.

Times staff writer Greg Auman contributed to this report.

Existing condition, stress led to player's death 07/17/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 1, 2010 4:20pm]
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