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Kansas coach: Cardiac screening 'probably saved' running back's life

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Kansas transfer Octavius Matthews won’t play for the Jayhawks.

Coach David Beaty said the team discovered a heart issue during its physical screening process for athletes. Tuesday, Beaty was blunt when he talked about the screenings and Matthews’ diagnosis of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

“There is a family history,” Beaty said during his press conference. “His mother just passed away three months before he got here. She was waiting on a heart transplant. She was waiting on one. And it didn’t get there. So luckily he signed with us and our cardiac screening is far above what most schools do. We do both an EKG, an echocardiogram with all of our athletes and they see cardiologists before they participate. Which is not mandatory. You have to be able to have resources to do that.”

“So our cardiac screen probably saved his life is what it comes down to.”

Beaty said Matthews will continue to be a part of the team even though he won’t be able to play. The decision to retire, Beaty said, was made in consultation with the athletic department’s medical personnel.

Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is when the heart muscle is thicker than normal, making it harder for the heart to pump blood. It can be a symptom-free condition and go undiagnosed in some people.

“He’s not ready to talk about it,” There’s a lot of things that he’s went through including the loss of his career that he did not plan on happening to him. He had high hopes … He had a real chance to play at the next level. He had more than a real chance.”

Matthews was a potential starter at running back for Kansas in 2017 and signed with the team on National Signing Day in February after originally committing to Auburn. After he signed with the Jayhawks, Beaty said Matthews’ commitment was one of the bigger victories in Kansas’ 2017 recruiting class. 

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Nick Bromberg is the editor of Dr. Saturday and From the Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at nickbromberg@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!