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Andy Katz | Correspondent | March 23, 2018

NCAA takes steps to permit Purdue’s Isaac Haas to wear a brace on his injured elbow

BOSTON — The NCAA has amended a rule interpretation which permits padding to be used to cover guards, braces or casts on the wrist, forearm and elbow. This interpretation may clear the way for Purdue’s Isaac Haas to wear a brace over his fractured right elbow Friday night in the Sweet 16 game against Texas Tech in Boston, but the decision whether he plays remains up to Purdue coach Matt Painter, the medical staff, game officials and Haas.

NCAA Senior Vice President of basketball Dan Gavitt worked with Purdue athletic director Mike Bobinski, NCAA basketball secretary-rules editor Art Hyland, and the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports (CSMAS) to get approval.

“With ample time this week to review the intent of the playing rule, the committee decided to provide a more contemporary interpretation, while keeping health and safety for all players the highest priority,” said Gavitt. “Technology has improved materials used in braces, so now there will be more flexibility in applying the rule as long as the brace is fully covered and padded. Isaac and other players in similar circumstances should be able to play, as long as the brace is safe for all.”

Purdue coach Matt Painter said in a text to Thursday night from Boston that “nothing would change (on Haas’ playing status) unless he shows me something different at shoot around (Friday).’’

Haas suffered the fracture when he crashed to the floor during a first-round victory over Cal State-Fullerton. He was not able to play in the Boilermakers’ win over Butler in the second round. Haas ran up and down the court during Thursday’s open practice but didn’t compete in a formal practice.

The 7-2, 290-pound senior center is averaging 14.7 points and 5.7 rebounds for the Boilermakers.

Rule 1-26.2 reads, “Elbow, hand, finger, wrist or forearm guards, casts or braces made of fiberglass, plaster, metal or any other non-pliable substance shall be prohibited.” Furthermore, Rule 1-26.4 states that, “Pliable (flexible or easily bent) material covered on all exterior sides and edges with not less than 1⁄2-inch thickness of slow-rebounding foam, may be used to immobilize and protect an injury.”

The CSMAS determined that padding can be used to make such braces safe for other players. CSMAS also emphasized that the officials must continue to check on the brace throughout the game so that no hard or sharp edges become exposed and could injure a player. In addition, CSMAS indicated that the Purdue medical staff must first determine if the injured player is medically cleared to participated with the protective equipment.

Bobinski told that Purdue engineering grad students were working on the brace as soon as Haas was injured.

"I believe they used carbon fiber, rubber and some leather," Bobinski said. "There was some old-school material and some very cutting-edge material. The carbon fiber is high tech, light and pliable. We believe it gives Isaac and other players on the court lots of protection."

Bobinski thanked the speed in which Gavitt, Hyland and J.D. Collins, the NCAA’s national coordinator of men’s basketball officiating, worked on providing flexibility in the interpretation.

“Whether he plays or not is another story,’’ Bobinski said. “But at least we have the window open and we really appreciate it. They had his best interest in mind.’’

Bobinski added that it is a significant fracture and range of motion and comfort level would be a major concern.

And that’s why Haas playing still could be a reach, but at least now he has the opportunity if the situation arises where he could step on the court.

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