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Stanford suspends sports performance director, gives no public explanation

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Stanford Sports Performance Director Shannon Turley was placed on administrative leave by the University this week. The administration has not publicly explained its decision, which comes on the heels of Turley’s twelfth season with the Stanford football program.

“As this is a personnel matter, we will not be providing further information at this time,” Stanford Athletics informed The Bootleg reporter R.J. Abeytia on Thursday.

Several anonymous football players told The Daily that head football coach David Shaw informed the team of Turley’s suspension “a few days ago.”

“It was 100 percent the University’s decision” and not that of the football team, the players said.

“On top of his day-to-day duties with the football team, Turley oversees the sports performance program implementation for each of Stanford’s 36 varsity teams,” a University site reads. It is unclear who will take over these duties during Turley’s suspension.

Football trainers have faced scrutiny in recent years over workouts deemed by many to be too physically demanding. University of Oregon strengths coach Irele Oderinde was suspended for a month without pay in 2017, just one week after being hired, as his offseason workouts resulted in hospitalization of three players. Though he returned from the suspension, Oderinde left Oregon after one year with the program.

In August 2018, the University of Maryland suspended multiple members of its athletic staff, including head coach D.J. Durkin, amid an external review into the June death of Jordan McNair, who suffered heat stroke during an offseason practice in May. Durkin was reinstated by Maryland on Oct. 30 but was fired the next day.

It is unclear whether Turley’s suspension is related to his coaching, and the announcement comes less than two months after the conclusion of the Cardinal’s football season. In an August interview with Rivals, Turley said “a positive summer” had taken place.

“The guys have grown a lot,” he said. “It was a helpful time for the leadership to emerge.”

Turley’s conditioning initiatives in the Stanford football program have dramatically reduced player injury rates. From 2006-2013, there was an 87 percent decrease in the number of games missed because of injury on Stanford’s roster. Turley joined the football program in 2007.

In light of this progress, the National Strength and Conditioning Association named Turley its Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year in 2013.

Turley has been sought after by competing programs, including the San Francisco 49’ers and the University of Michigan Wolverines led by former Stanford football coach Jim Harbaugh. Bryce Love ’19 told the SF Chronicle in November 2018 that he has “nowhere near the knowledge” of Turley and his staff when it comes to rehabilitation.

“I’m still learning my way around the block,” the running back added at the time.

The Daily has reached out to Turley and Stanford Athletics for comment.

The headline of this article has been corrected to clarify that Shannon Turley’s role as sports performance director is different than that of head athletic trainer, as well as to note Jim Harbaugh, not John, was previously a Stanford football coach. The Daily regrets these errors.

Cybele Zhang contributed reporting.

Contact Holden Foreman at hs4man21 ‘at’ stanford.edu and Bobby Pragada at bpragada ‘at’ stanford.edu.

Holden Foreman '21 is The Daily's Executive Editor. He hails from the city of St. Louis, Missouri and is studying electrical engineering, computer science and economics. Contact him at hs4man21 'at' stanford.edu.