Former TU linebacker George Clinkscale dies
BY ERIC BAILEY World Sports Writer
Thursday, September 22, 2011
5/30/12 at 8:18 AM
Former University of Tulsa football player George Clinkscale died after taking part in a boxing event at GUTS Church on Wednesday night. He was 24.
Clinkscale, a linebacker at TU from 2005-09, was on the main-event card at GUTS Church’s Fight Night VI when witnesses said he started cramping during his match.
The event was not sanctioned, according to the Oklahoma State Athletic Commission, which started an investigation Thursday and indicated evidence would be provided to the state attorney general’s office.
GUTS Pastor Bill Scheer said Clinkscale’s death has affected everyone at the church, and he wants to speak with Clinkscale’s mother, who was driving to Tulsa from Dallas, before he issued official statements.
“To us, it’s tragic,” Scheer said. “We have to evaluate everything. … I want to be sensitive to his family.”
Scheer said he was aware of the investigation and allegations from the athletic commission but needed time before he could respond.
Scheer ministered Clinkscale for years both as an athlete and a patron of GUTS church and was in the hospital until 4 a.m. with Clinkscale’s fiancée and family. The couple has a young daughter.
“He’ll be missed,” Scheer said.
Tulsa Police Sgt. Justin Farley said officers were not called to the scene Wednesday, but an off-duty officer was there working as security.
Farley said the officer requested for EMSA to respond to the address at 9:40 p.m. for a conscious male "in his 20s with a possible concussion.”
EMSA spokesman Chris Stevens said paramedics responded shortly before 9:45 and treated and transported a male in his 20s from the area with a traumatic injury. He was taken to St. Francis Hospital in serious condition.
Clickscale was coherent and talking as he walked to the ambulance following the boxing match, Scheer said.
Scheer also said the boxing match had an experienced referee who oversaw each of the church's five previous fight-night events. Medical personnel were present along with Tulsa police officers and church security, he said.
The boxers all had proper head gear and wore 16-ounce gloves during their one-minute round, three-round matches, Scheer said.
Joe Miller, executive director of the Oklahoma State Athletic Commission, said USA Boxing (the sanctioning body of all amateur boxing events in Oklahoma) had no knowledge of the fight card. Miller spent Thursday morning investigating the event.
“Once I gather all of the information, I’ll be turning it over to the state attorney general’s office, who will in turn turn it over to probably the Tulsa County District Attorney’s office," he said. "... It is a violation of Title 3A of the Oklahoma codes.”
That code regulates amateur boxing events in Oklahoma. USA Boxing is the only organization the Oklahoma State Athletic Commission allows to sanction amateur events and has guidelines that govern them.
Sanctioned events require a pre-bout physical, a doctor ringside and an ambulance on site.
“The rules are in place to protect the athlete,” Miller said. “That’s why they are as stringent as they are and the medical requirements are what they are."
Miller said responsibility would be on the promoter of the event “whether it be the church, the pastor of the church, whoever promoted it, advertised it, put the show on or collected the money."
“I did find a website where this is not the first time this has happened,” Miller said. “They billed this as GUTS Church VI, so obviously there have been others that have flown under the radar."
The news of Clinkscale's death shocked his former coaches and teammates. Former Tulsa coach Todd Graham recruited Clinkscale, who was from Cedar Hill, Texas.
Clinkscale was a four-year lettermen at TU and three-year starter, Clinkscale earned a degree in exercise sports science.
"We are incredibly heartbroken to hear about the passing of George Clinkscale, one of the most passionate young men I’ve ever met,” Graham, the coach at the University of Pittsburgh, said in a statement. “... He will always hold a very special place in my heart. He was strongly committed to his family, his faith and his Tulsa teammates.”
Dave Martin was Clinkscale’s position coach in high school.
“I had spoken with him earlier in the week,” said Martin, head coach at Jones High School. “You hate to see something happen like that to a young man. The Cedar Hill family and the Tulsa family lost a great individual, and I hate to hear about the loss.”
Martin said Clinkscale “was a heck of a competitor. He was a kid that was playing like he was on fire, but he was smiling.”
Central head coach Dan Phillips, previously a TU assistant, helped recruited Clinkscale. In August, Clinkscale became Central's linebackers coach after expressing a coaching interest to Phillips.
"I already knew what I had in George and it took me only five minutes to give him a whistle and a shirt," Phillips said.
Central is off to a surprising 3-0 start and its defense has been a big part of the success.
"The kids loved him," Phillips said. "He had a great relationship with them."
TU football coach Bill Blankenship released this statement: "Our football program has been shaken by the news of George Clinkscale's passing. The thoughts and prayers of the entire TU football family go out to his family and friends during this terrible time. George was much too young to be taken from us. He was an extremely passionate and bright young man who will be greatly missed and long remembered by his teammates and coaches. The thing I was most excited about in George's life right now was how tremendously excited he was to be a father. He was passionate about working as a football coach and how much he could make a difference with those young men. It's a tragic loss for all of us."
Several current and former teammates on Twitter relayed their condolences:
“Lost one in the Tulsa family today. Crazy thing is I saw him last night. Please pray for his family. RIP GEORGE CLINKSCALE.” - @Thomas_Roberson
"Prayers go out to the family of George Clinkscale! George was a great football player, teammate, but an even better man.” - @nicholasDgraham
“Lost a co-worker and a TU brother last night. Less than 24 hours ago we were laughing and having fun workin. Rest In Peace George Clinkscale.” - JamesFloyd71
TU's George Clinkscale chases down SMU's Kyle Padron during a 2009 game. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World file