You may not recognize Murphy Grant roaming the sidelines at a football game. But the Jayhawks Director of Sports Medicine and assistant athletics director is known as one of the best in his profession.
When Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby addressed the media in July he mentioned Grant as one of the leaders in their study on concussions and player safety. Grant, who has been the chair of the Big 12 Sports Medicine group for the last three years, was a key person in the NCAA study.
Grant had to lead the way for the Big 12 to help find ways to better understand the concussion issues.
"We dealt with the sickle cell issue and with the NCAA we have our hands around that," Grant said. "The cardiac issue, with kids dying, we looked at how we could correct this. And we have addressed that. Our next big one was the concussions. We have been discussing the whole concussion issue for about the last 3 to 4 years on how to attack it."
The trainers in the Big 12 met and talked several times about concussions.
"I'm an action guy I'm not much of a talker," Grant said. "So I said let's do it. So we started putting all of these guidelines together and I spent a lot of time typing up my thoughts and sharing with everyone in the league. I was making sure that my grammar was correct and all of those things."
Grant using all of their information put together the first study. With a smile he said they quickly moved to the second draft.
"Once we came up with something we felt was really strong we submitted it to the Big 12 and of course it got shot down really, really quick," he said. "It wasn't strong enough so it was back to the drawing board and leaning on everyone in the conference."
Grant said there are a lot of quality trainers in the Big 12 conference that work well together. They started to collect data over the last two years. Grant spent the spring and summer meeting with coaches and administrators in the Big 12.
"We finally came up with what we call a position statement," he said. "That was the first step that every institution had to have a concussion policy. Something every institution had to put in place if someone was diagnosed with a concussion they had to see a team Physician."
When the NCAA got all of their information they put an official plan in place. Much of the NCAA policy comes from what the Big 12 is using.
"I am pleased with it," Grant said. "I think what has come out from the NCAA there is a good sufficient amount of what we put together in the league is in the NCAA's information that has recently come out."
Kansas got a good one from Oklahoma State
Grant was with the Boston Red Sox and moved to Oklahoma State. He was the strength and conditioning coach for the Cowboys basketball team.
He didn't know the Jayhawks were looking for an athletic trainer. His G.A. at Oklahoma State was Heidi Von Arx (now Heidi Matsakis). Her husband George Matsakis, was the director of football operations at Kansas. He is now an assistant to Dr. Sheahon Zenger.
"I was actually at a wedding in Arizona with them," Grant said. "At the wedding he (George) asked me if I would consider or think about being the football athletic trainer at K.U. I told him I would be interested in that. After I got back from the wedding I applied and then I was up here on an interview."
He has served at the football athletic trainer for eight years and the Athletic Director of Sports Medicine for the last six.
Several big names reach out to Grant
Back in 2003 Grant gave a talk on what he calls "the gray area." He describes that as the state of when an athlete needs to be in the training room or return to competition.
"I gave a talk just on performance and the gray area is what I called it," Grant said. "That gray area from the athletic training room to the weight room and to the field. Where they are healthy enough they really don't need to be in the athletic training room every day, but they're not healthy enough to be going full speed on the field. What are we doing about that gray area? It was about a 25 minute lecture and demonstrated some exercises."
That talk 11 years ago took off from there. People in the strength and conditioning profession started to take notice what Grant was saying. Then the phone started ringing more.
"After that more talks started coming up and then people started requesting me at strength and conditioning conferences," Grant said.
Then bigger names started to reach out. Grant since has worked with the Navy Seals. Last spring he helped Seal Team Three and Five. In January he worked with the New York Yankees who wanted him to help with Derek Jeter's ankle.
He has also worked with Manchester United, Aston Villa, and Chelsea soccer teams.
"I guess they are recognizing what I am doing," Grant said. "If someone wants my help and I have information to share what good is it having it if I don't share?"