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LB falls 100 feet into elevator shaft

By Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published August 30, 2000


NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Vanderbilt football player Luke Hammond was in critical condition Tuesday after falling 100 feet down a dormitory elevator shaft.

Hammond, 19, a freshman linebacker from Montgomery, Ala., fell Monday night trying to climb out of a crowded elevator stopped between the ninth and 10th floors.

He sustained internal injuries, and doctors operated on him Tuesday morning, removing his spleen, university spokeswoman Elizabeth Latt said.

Thirteen people were aboard the elevator when it stopped in Carmichael Towers West, said Steve Caldwell, dean of residential and judicial affairs. The recommended maximum capacity is 10 people, and a safety feature stops the elevator when sensing an overload.

Several people reportedly forced the door open and Hammond fell to the basement as he attempted to lower himself to the floor below, Caldwell said.

Hammond was conscious and speaking when he was transported to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, officials said.

TEAMS HAGGLE OVER MAKEUP: The BCA Bowl, postponed Sunday because of a severe thunderstorm in Blacksburg, Va., remained in limbo as Georgia Tech officials remained opposed to playing the game in December. A decision could come as early as today after Yellow Jackets athletics director Dave Braine speaks with a representative from the Black Coaches Association.

Officials from Virginia Tech, the BCA, ESPN and the Gazelle Group, which is producing the game for the BCA, have agreed to a Dec. 1 makeup date. But Georgia Tech is not in favor of that plan.

"Unless something dramatic comes up, we're not going to play the game," Braine said. "If the Georgia Tech legal counsel tells us that we have to play the game, that would be the only thing that would make it happen."

The Jackets wanted to play in August to get an extra game for inexperienced quarterbacks George Godsey and Andy Hall before conference play began. Braine also thinks extending the season into December would be too big a burden on the players, who have final exams beginning Dec. 9.

Lastly, Braine is wary of an emotional letdown playing an additional game the week after in-state rival Georgia. If the Virginia Tech game is not made up, the Jackets would need six wins instead of seven to earn their fourth straight bowl trip.

GEORGIA: Senior receiver Michael Greer was suspended for the first five games of the season for an unspecified violation of team rules, the school said.

UNC: Willie Parker's status for Saturday's opener against Tulsa is in question after the starting tailback "popped" his back in practice late last week. The freshman from Clinton was running in the open field Thursday when he pulled up lame, coach Carl Torbush said.

PENN ST.: The Nittany Lions' 29-5 loss to Southern Cal in the Kickoff Classic on Sunday knocked them out of the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time since the end of the 1992 season. But coach Joe Paterno doesn't plan any major changes before Saturday's game against Toledo.

"We feel comfortable with what we're doing," he said. "We just have to do it a little better. We have to be more intelligent, be less jittery. We made a lot of mistakes."

Meanwhile, junior receiver Eddie Drummond likely will miss the next two games because of a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee.

WISCONSIN: Since last season, Barry Alvarez and his staff have been toying with the idea of using All-America cornerback Jamar Fletcher as a receiver. Fletcher, who led the Big Ten in interceptions each of the past two seasons, has practiced intermittently with the offense during summer drills.

Though no one is saying for certain, he may get a chance to try the position. The Badgers open against Western Michigan on Thursday night.

"It's something we've talked about and examined," Alvarez said. "It's an exciting idea, certainly. We know what kind of a talent Jamar is. We'd be foolish not to use that in any way we can."

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