Garden City Community College has received the external review into the August 2018 death of former football player Braeden Bradforth, but it will not be released until that institution's board of trustees reviews it.
Rod Walters — the independent investigator who headed the probe — submitted the report to the community college last week, according to GCCC Director of Public Relations Ashley Salazar.
“I can confirm that the external review is complete, and that information has been handed over to the board of trustees,” Salazar said. “At this time, that is all of the information I can offer. We won’t know when the report will be shared (with Braeden Bradforth’s family or the public) until the trustees have had an opportunity to review it.”
At the time of his death, Bradforth, of Neptune, New Jersey, was a football player at Garden City, coached by Jeff Sims, who has since been hired by Missouri Southern State University to lead the football program. Bradforth's family and others have said there are still many unanswered questions about the events leading up to Bradforth's death and Sims' coaching practices the day the player died.
The board of trustees of GCCC, located in Garden City, Kansas, authorized the school to spend up to $100,000 on an outside investigation into Bradforth’s death.
The findings have not been shared with Bradforth’s mother, Joanne Atkins-Ingram, or her attorney, Jill Greene.
“I still don’t have the information from (the external review), and I’m hoping to get the information from those findings,” Atkins-Ingram said. “We’ve been eagerly waiting for this investigation to be completed. So it’s just like all of the other things we’ve waited for — the autopsy, the school’s internal investigation and so on. We’ve been waiting for so long for every little bit of information that we’ve gotten so far. … They’ve promised to be transparent, and that’s the last thing they’ve been up to this point.”
Attempts to reach Salazar Wednesday afternoon for a response to Atkins-Ingram's criticism was not successul.
GCCC previously conducted an internal review that was roundly criticized as “grossly inadequate” and “self-serving” by Greene and U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, of New Jersey, both of whom called for an outside investigation.
“We are very eager to learn the results and any information that might give Joanne a clearer picture of what happened to Braeden and what his last moments were like,” Greene said this week. “I’m hoping it was a truly independent investigation. And if it is, I don’t see how the college could deny us access to this report. So I’m hoping they will provide us a copy of the report for our own review as soon as possible.”
Bradforth collapsed on campus less than an hour after a conditioning session on Aug. 1, 2018 — one day after he arrived at the community college to continue his football career. Bradforth was pronounced dead after being transported to a Garden City hospital later in the night.
In late November, an autopsy report concluded Bradforth, a 300-pound lineman, died of exertional heatstroke — a condition that could come as a result of circumstances such as strenuous activity in hot or humid conditions, dehydration, poor physical condition and sleep deprivation.
Atkins-Ingram said in an interview with the Globe this spring, “Based on all of the facts we’ve gathered since the day my son died, I believe his death was absolutely preventable."
In August, Sims told the Globe that Bradforth’s death had nothing to do with the practice he took part in the night the died, saying, "I don't know why everything happened, but I am confident that everything we did as a football program was appropriate."
Sims has since declined to comment further on Bradforth's death or the outside investigation. He has acknowledged that he has been interviewed for the external review.
The community college in May released its "Summary of Internal Review," its own report into the death that noted Bradforth had participated in a second workout on the day he died, beginning at 7 p.m. It consisted of 36 50-yard sprints, with 30 seconds of rest between each sprint.
"They were provided water," the report states.
It notes that the temperature was 84 degrees that evening at practice, and that more than a dozen coaches and trainers were on hand at the time, and that ice towels, an ice chest, water and Gatorade were plentiful.