“Amber is a courageous young woman, and we hope she will remain at UT as a student,” Tennessee Women’s Athletics Director Joan Cronan said. “If she decides she would like to pursue a playing opportunity at another university, we will support her decision to do so. We only want what is best for Amber.”
Amber Gray, a high school All American, was part of the highly touted high school class of 2008 that arrived at Tennessee as a six-pack signing class.
Gray played as a true freshman and then hurt her shoulder in workout sessions after the season ended. When the shoulder did not heal sufficiently with rest and rehab, Gray had surgery in early July of 2009. She sustained a stroke after the operation that was brought on by an undiagnosed brain aneurysm. She underwent 12 hours of surgery at a specialized hospital in her home state of Ohio and then spent several weeks in a rehab center.
Gray returned to campus last October and re-enrolled at Tennessee last January. She was often at practice for rehab and exercise workouts, but the medical staff did not clear her to retake the basketball court in a contact sport because of the brain operation.
“The University of Tennessee Women’s Athletic Department announced today that after careful consideration and consultation with medical experts, Lady Vol redshirt sophomore basketball student-athlete Amber Gray will not be cleared by the department’s medical staff to resume team-related athletic activities with respect to intercollegiate competition at UT,” according to the released statement.
Gray’s family declined comment Tuesday afternoon until Amber Gray has a chance to explore her options to play basketball again at another school or return to Tennessee as a regular student. Gray returned home this summer to Ohio after the spring semester ended.
Tennessee can place Gray on medical scholarship – as was done with former Lady Vol Cait McMahan, who had to stop playing basketball because of unstable knees – and she can finish her college education but that status is irrevocable and the student can’t return to athletic scholarship. McMahan graduated last May.
The Vols basketball program had a similar situation with Emmanuel Negedu, who went into cardiac arrest in September of 2009 after a conditioning workout and had to be revived by medical staff before an ambulance arrived. Tennessee medical officials did not release Negedu, who had an internal cardiac defibrillator (ICD) implanted in his chest, to return to basketball. Negedu showed interest in Indiana, which also did not clear him, and then was medically released at New Mexico, where he will play this coming season.
Negedu, like Gray, remains a popular player among Tennessee fans because of the medical ordeals that they endured.