Jul 20, 2019

PARENT: HARBAUGH REFUSED TO DISCUSS SON’S MENTAL STATE

On October 22, 2018, Nick Baumgardner of the DETROIT FREE PRESS reported that former star high school football recruit James Hudson had decided to leave the University of Michigan football team and transfer to another school.

Glenda Hudson: Mother of James Hudson Said Jim Harbaugh Shut Down Depression Discussion

Prior to Hudson’s decision to transfer, he and his mother Glenda Hudson, who WTOL-TV in Toledo reported today has a “masters degree in counseling and also has a degree in social work  met with Michigan head football coach Jim Harbaugh and Michigan Offensive Line Coach Ed Warinner.

Of that meeting, WTOL also reported today:

Glenda said her son was never given the opportunity to disclose the depression he was feeling.

“I started the meeting out saying ‘Coach, I’m here to find out what it is we need to do about my son,” Glenda Hudson said. “The exact words that I say to Coach Harbaugh: ‘My son is feeling down, disheartened, something’s wrong.’ Coach Harbaugh repeats those words right back to me. (Harbaugh says) ‘James, do you want to leave? If you want to leave, there’s nothing I can do.’ Coach Warinner comes and tries to talk to my son, Coach Harbaugh: ‘Shh..don’t say nothing,’” Glenda said.

After the meeting in which Harbaugh, according to James Hudson’s mother Glenda, refused to discuss any possible depression and/or mental distress that her son might be experiencing while also forbidding assistant coach Warinner from addressing the subject with her son, James Hudson decided to transfer to the University of Cincinnati to play football for the Bearcats.

On May 14, 2019, James Hudson Tweeted the following from his personal Twitter account:

Text from the Tweet:

My NCAA waiver got denied. Clearly mental well being isn’t as important as playing time. The stigma is REAL.

The University of Cincinnati filed a waiver for me to be immediately eligible. The NCAA has denied my waiver specifically because I never spoke up about my mental struggles to administration at the University of Michigan.

Like many football players I was afraid to speak up about my depression not wanting to look weak. Now the NCAA is telling me that my courage to step forward and speak about my issues was done too late and subjectively my, “Circumstances do not warrant relief.”

I want to thank my family and friends for their love and support throughout this entire process.

With the news that the NCAA’s rejection of Cincinnati’s waiver claim was based on Hudson’s not speaking up about his mental distress to Michigan officials, Harbaugh’s unwillingness to acknowledge Hudson’s state of mind during the meeting between him, assistant coach Warinner, Hudson and Hudson’s mother comes off as a calculated ploy by the Michigan coach to prevent Hudson from gaining immediate eligibility in the event Hudson decided to transfer to another school.

In furtherance of the idea that Harbaugh acted in such a way as to prevent Hudson from playing right away after transferring was comments Harbaugh made earlier this week during an interview for an ESPNU Podcast in which he made plain that he thought players were faking adverse mental conditions in order to gain immediate eligibility as transfers.

Below is the audio followed by the text of Harbaugh’s statements on the ESPNU Podcast:

“the youngster that says, ‘okay this is a mental health issue, I’m suffering from depression.’

“Or that’s a reason that they’re getting eligible.

“And once they, once that’s, that’s known that did your, your ‘hey, just say this’ you know or ‘say that’ and then to get eligible.

“The problem I see in that is that you’re going to have guys that are ‘Okay. Yeah.  I’m depressed.’

“Say what they’ve got to say. But then, you know, down the road I don’t see that helping them if it’s not a legitimate thing.

“And nobody, nobody would know.

“But what are you going to say like ten years down the road ‘oh I just had to say what I had to say?’

“And I think you’re putting them in a position that’s, that’s uh, unfair, not right.

“And that’s, you know, that’s not truthful. That’s not necessarily truthful.

“That’s not something we should be promoting at the college level.

“I mean, telling the truth matters. Probably the number one thing that you need to do especially at a college.

“You can’t have experiments that aren’t truthful. You can’t lie about experiments. You can’t lie about equations.

“You know, you shouldn’t be lying in football. That’s a message that we should be teaching.

“So, I know got a little long-winded there. But I think that would help all concerned.

At the end of the interview, which is not included in the above audio, Harbaugh remarked:

“And can I add, please don’t write a bunch of letters.

“I care very deeply about mental health.”

On the latter, if Harbaugh’s actions in the case of James Hudson matter, nothing could be further from the truth.

Follow Brooks Melchior on Twitter at @SportsbyBrooks.