When starting quarterback Alvin Cowan ’04 broke his left fibula against Cornell, he thought he would be back in time to lead the Elis against Pennsylvania. Four weeks later, Cowan has yet to return and is pondering forgoing the rest of his eligibility this season with a medical redshirt.
NCAA rules state that if a player becomes injured before the first 20 percent of a season’s scheduled contests are completed and does not compete in any contests for the remainder of the season because of the same injury, then he is eligible for a medical redshirt. A medical redshirt allows a varsity athlete to forgo playing in his current season so that he may participate in a fifth season.
Cowan has acknowledged that he is giving serious consideration to the medical redshirt. But as of yesterday, he has not made a decision and does not know when he will be able to decide.
“I’ve obviously been thinking about [redshirting],” Cowan said. “But, like I’ve been telling everybody, I definitely don’t want to give up on this year and I definitely don’t want to give up on the rest of this season.”
Although Cowan is being evaluated on a week-by-week basis, doctors have not set a date when Cowan will be ready to return.
“As far as the X-ray goes, [the doctors] have said they would’ve cleared me if I weren’t feeling pain,” Cowan said. “But I’m still having some pain. I haven’t put weight on the balls of my left foot for four weeks now and it takes some getting used to to use it again.”
With Cowan’s injury continuing to bother him, Yale head coach Jack Siedlecki has been hesitant about allowing Cowan back onto the field. At the same time, Siedlecki has spoken with Cowan about the possibility of opting for the medical redshirt.
“Our coaches and doctors would never put a player in jeopardy physically and the bottom line is that he is not healthy enough to practice or play right now,” Siedlecki said. “Alvin is eligible for a medical redshirt should he decide to take it. I have spoken with him at length about his situation.”
Cowan can find comfort in the fact that there are other members of the Yale football team who are facing the same decision. Linebacker Tate Rich ’04, defensive lineman Bryant Dieffenbacher ’04, and defensive back Michael Lafia ’05 all have similar situations.
Players who have decided to take a fifth year have made significant contributions to their teams, such as Pennsylvania wide receiver Rob Milanese, who torched the Elis for 12 catches for 140 yards and two touchdowns.
Cowan said he will do everything he can to get back onto the field, but, with only four more games left in the season, time might be his biggest obstacle.
“I don’t see him being back for the Columbia game,” teammate Barton Simmons ’04 said. “If he comes back for Brown, even if he is ready physically, he’ll still need to get back in shape and get back into the flow of the game. The longer he stays out the more likely [redshirting] becomes.”
While Cowan acknowledges that he may not be ready until it is too late, he says he is willing to make the necessary personal sacrifices if the team were to call on him.
“If I won’t be able to come back till the last game of the season, I will have to consider that,” Cowan said. “Obviously, one game or a whole season, that’s a big difference. But if the coaches tell me they need me for the last game of the season and I am ready, I will play.”