Emmanuel Negedu to New Mexico

Former UT basketball player Emmanuel Negedu photographed in October 2009.

Photo by Adam Brimer

Former UT basketball player Emmanuel Negedu photographed in October 2009.

Emmanuel Negedu has put his nightmarish experience behind him and is ready to start living his dream again.

The former Tennessee men's basketball player who suffered a cardiac event on Sept. 28 and had an ICD device implanted in his chest said he has made a verbal commitment to play for New Mexico and will sign on Monday.

"Coach (Steve) Alford told me he had already talked to the legal department there to get that cleared, and I just had to see the cardiologist,'' said the 6-foot-7, 220-pound Negedu, who visited New Mexico earlier this week. "That went well, so I got my dream back. I'm happy and I'm excited.'

“There will always be a place in my heart for Tennessee no matter where I go, and I would love to stay here but this is working out for me to follow my dream and do what I do best. I know they will understand, and I give them my love.’’

Negedu, a 21-year-old originally from Kaduna, Nigeria, said he wanted to thank the Tennessee staff and fans.

"Without all of them, there would be no me,'' said Negedu, who was revived in the UT indoor football facility by trainer Chad Newman after his heart stopped. "I want the Tennessee fans to know this has been a great place for me, and I want to thank them for their prayers and their support."

UT athletic director Mike Hamilton denied last month Negedu's request to stay and play with the Vols, a difficult decision Hamilton said he had to make in the best interests of Negedu and the school.

Tennessee assistant coach Steve Forbes said he understood the decision, but maintained his support of Negedu's wishes.

"Once the Indiana thing fell through it was a natural for him to visit New Mexico because of his familiarity with the staff there,'' said Forbes, referring to Negedu's visit to the Hoosiers earlier this month. "That coaching staff at New Mexico recruited him hard when they were at Iowa, and Emmanuel knows them and feels comfortable with them.

"There's a part of me that will always be worried - I was there when it happened,'' said Forbes, who recruited Negedu and stayed at the hospital with him through the night after the cardiac event. "But we can't live our lives like that, in fear.

"We're going to miss him in the locker room and as a teammate, but also, just his presence as a person.''

Negedu said he plans to enroll at New Mexico in June for summer school and expects to be granted a waiver by the NCAA to play immediately. He has three years of eligibility left.

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Comments » 59

runninbroke writes:

May God bless him and he can live out his dream. Here's hoping that things work out in New Mexico. Best of luck!

dvhill100 writes:

Good luck. As you have proven, you can't run scared in life. Have a great career and better health.

civilianvol_formerly_marinevol writes:

Sure wish he was going to be playing for the Vols, but I can kind of understand Hamilton's decision... sort of. Well, not really. But, I guess he has a lot more information about the situation than I do. But still... Anyway, hope he does well at New Mexico. Damn.

Cldvols1 writes:

Good luck out west my man, bye!

BrandiVol writes:

I hope he has a great career and the best of luck out west and mostly I hope he has good health from now on...

DandyVol writes:

Good person. Good student. Good athelete. Good luck. Good Bye. Good grief, he's gone. We'll miss you.

pdhuff#552644 writes:

All the best, young man.

Only the Big Guy knows whats best in the long run.

orangecountyvols writes:

Well said by everyone. All the best to you Emmanuel

jesusvol4 writes:

Good luck to you and may God bless you with a long healthy life. I hope you will please be honest with yourself though if your heart gets too stressed. Basketball is very demanding on the heart. May God help you have restraint if need be. I have said enough, God bless you.

Georgia_Dave writes:

What more can be said. He never gave up on the VOLS and didn't look to go elsewhere until the TN door was closed. We can only hope and pray that he does well in NM and has his dreams are fulfilled. I just hope we don't have to face off against him in the NCAA tourney in the future. What a difficult game that would be on us fans!

volfan53 writes:

Good luck and best wishes young man. As someone who lived in Albuquerque for 13 years I would just warn you to be careful out there. It is a very violent city and has one of the highest murder rates in the US.. There are numerous gangs out there so be very careful. It is a different world.

I hope you have a wonderful career and go as far as you wish.

FeelVol writes:

It's sad for me as a fan that things didn't work out here for you E-man you're truly gonna be missed.Best of wishes for you.

madrigal writes:

Hamilton is an idiot. If he'd been AD when Nikki Caldwell had her heart problems she never would have finished her playing career at TN and might not be where she is today. He needs to update his knowledge base or find a medical advisor who knows what s/he's doing.

riversetvol writes:

No Madrigal, it is you who is the idiot. First off, each heart, "problem," is different, with your vast medical knowledge have you seen both Negedu and Nikki's diagnosis and prognosis?

And even if they were exactly the same Hamilton has to look at the facts and decide what he thinks is best for Emanuel and the program.
I am just glad I didn't have to make the decision.

iowa_vol writes:

I wish you the best of luck in your career and more so for your health. HOWEVER, you have will be playing hoops for a supreme prik, molded in the likeness of Lane Kiffen.

iowa_vol writes:

By the way Madrigal...Hamilton is the men's AD...not the women's AD. It wouldn't have been his decision. Hang Hamilton for a lot of things, but looking out for a young man's health based on the information he was given goes beyond wins and losses.

beachvol1 writes:

in response to DukeDeLuca:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I agree Negedu is a role model and great inspiration to have on the team, but when you have two major programs that do not find him fit enough to take court, then something really is wrong and I just hope NM knows what they are doing and not sacrificing this young man's life for the benefit of their bb program..for once Mike Hamilton did the right thing and it was for the players benefit not the University..I wish it could have worked out, but only the "Almighty" knows that answer!!! Good luck young man and GOD Speed!!!!

BleedsOrangeinMO writes:

Negedu has always stated that he hopes to play in the NBA so he can support his family in Nigeria. Assuming that he is good enough to play in the NBA what NBA team would allow him to play? They would be taking some of the same risks as any university that allows him to play.
I'd love to see him stay at UT however, every time he was knocked to the floor fans and staff would be holding their breath to see if he would get up. The bottom line is he has a heart problem and while the implant device is to help with the situation it does NOT guarantee his health. As far as him getting a doctor to OK him playing; we all know that each doctor would give a slightly different opinion about his condition. All of us take chances every day - - however, in this case why push his luck.

V_O_L_S_GO_VOLS_GO writes:

in response to DukeDeLuca:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Because there's always the question of "what if?" I'm never really one to defend Hammy myself, but I guess to play devil's advocate, would you like to be in his shoes if something DID happen to Emanuel, heaven forbid during a GAME? I wouldn't. I don't necessarily like his decision, either, but I respect and understand it and say 'let's wish him the best and move on.'

jzt writes:

God bless you E-Man, hope that all goes well for you. You will always be a Volunteer.

GerryOP writes:

in response to pdhuff#552644:

All the best, young man.

Only the Big Guy knows whats best in the long run.

Yup, 'tis true, the Big Guy knows. Go forth and do well young man.

nola_vol writes:

It will be interesting to see what kind of public relations effect Negedu's presence has on the N.M. program, both now and after the season starts. If E-man's getting significant playing time, whenever NewMex's on TV, that will be the lead story AND the human interest sidebar. Some networks are gonna cover a N.M. game like it was Talledega--"the big one could happen at any time!"

Will Alford be besieged all season with questions about the ethics of signing Emmanuel? How many people--fairly or not--will presume N.M. is taking advantage of an immigrant from a poor country (rather than the opposite)?

And ultimately, what will Dick (auto-censor re-wrote that--but you know who I mean) Vitale--the unofficial conscience of college hoops--have to say about it? Will he draw a line from Alford back to the younger Bobby Knight?

It's a story that can be spun good or bad, and the school has no control over it. If Bilas has a bad lunch, you may get your program crucified before a national television audience. It'll be one more question the mother of every kid you recruit will have to have answered--not only to her satisfaction, but to the satisfaction of anyone who might express doubts about her as a parent.

And if Negedu doesn't play, you can bet the Duke Crazy-wannabe's will be holding signs like, "I let my son sign with New Mexico... and all I got was a lousy EKG!"

It's not obvious that Hamilton made a good decision--and God forbid that something happens to prove it was. What IS obvious is that there were many more arguments against letting Emmanuel play for Tennessee than for it.

richvol writes:

I have been watching the Vols play basketball since my Dad took me to the old Armory Field House over 50 years ago. I can honestly say that Negedu had as much potential athletically as any player UT ever had. Ay 6'7" and 230lbs he could jump out of the gym and could run the floor like a deer. He is tremendously strong and would have dominated in this league his junior and senior years.

I wish him nothing but the best and pray that GOD continues to watch over him.

tennrich1 writes:

Its very clear on Eman....the legal and image risk is just to high...just think if something were to happen again..and honestly it may...the same well informed critics would be ready to CRUCIFY Hamilton and the rest...I do pray God's continued protection on him...But surely a reasonable (key word) man can understand this situation.

1vavolfan writes:

After Indiana didnt clear him to play I felt alot better about our decision because I really was skeptical of Hamilton.If I was the AD, I would hate to clear him and then have him die.As far as a waiver, that is fine from a legal standpoint but not from a moral standpoint.If there is the slightest chance this could happen again then you don't clear him to play.Steve Alford is a good guy and good coach.I am glad he is going there instead of Indiana.

UTbassdrummer writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEAR:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yeah, who cares if he dies, as long as there's a waiver.
You impressively missed the point. We don't want
playing basketball at UT to KILL THIS KID WHO
WE ALL LIKE SO MUCH.

Vol_In_Ohio writes:

Good luck - I hope you get to play a lot. If you are on TV we'll be cheering for you!

mdanger writes:

@volfan53:
Knoxville is a more violent place than Albuquerque. It's violent crime rate is 1.62 times the national average, Albuquerque's is 1.42.

Source: http://www.cityrating.com/citycrime.a...

jman33163 writes:

Go with God E-man!! I wish you all the very best in basketball and in life. You have been a blessing to all of us during your time here and you will be severely missed!! God bless

Go Big Orange!!!!

osbymartin#581730 writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEAR:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

From all that I was able to find....Gathers signed a waiver of liability and that didn't seem to keep the university or doctors from being held liable.

http://articles.latimes.com/1992-03-0...

tdvol1989 writes:

I wish Negedu the best and understand his decision. He is a class act all the way.

But, I do not understand the situation. I would not wish any ill will on Negedu, but I think the NCAA as a whole should be united on this. What did Hamilton accomplish as far as Emmanuel's safety? Why is he unfit for one school but cleared to play at another?

I just feel like if he is going to play no matter what, he might as well be a Vol.

rabidvol1998 writes:

Good luck and best wishes.

The fastest guy I ever saw on a basketball court. (at least a tall one)

Colliervol writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEAR:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Just because he can sign a waiver doesn't make it an intelligent decision. Sometimes adults have to take the decision out of a kid's hands when he/she wants to rush into something without thinking. (Just like what a good parent would do with his child.) No doubt Emmanuel wants to play and he is to be commended for that. All I know is that doctors from two schools said no, so what are the New Mexico folks looking at that is different? I just hope they don't come to regret the decision. Maybe it works out and maybe it doesn't but I believe Hamilton made the correct decision.

hueypilot writes:

Waivers are not worth the paper they are written on. This is a liability issue through and through and our tort claim happy civil legal system is to blame here. Deep pockets and any mistake equals winning the lottery. Just notice how many ambulance chaser ads you have on TV these days. It has become a national sport and it is, in fact, a national disgrace and everyone of us pays for it in every good and service we purchase.

osbymartin#581730 writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEAR:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Yeah. They are going to play and do the things they want to do as long as someone allows them to do it. I hope he plays injury/incident free for the next 3 years or longer if he chooses. As we have learned from past stories NOTHING is lawsuit free..

osbymartin#581730 writes:

in response to hueypilot:

Waivers are not worth the paper they are written on. This is a liability issue through and through and our tort claim happy civil legal system is to blame here. Deep pockets and any mistake equals winning the lottery. Just notice how many ambulance chaser ads you have on TV these days. It has become a national sport and it is, in fact, a national disgrace and everyone of us pays for it in every good and service we purchase.

The McDonald's verdict didn't help the situation any..I mean, what grown individual wouldn't know that coffee was HOT??

Millisa writes:

Emmanuel God Bless and Good Luck You are in my prayers.

always_vol (Inactive) writes:

May your ancient astronaut aliens look after you, E.

New Mexico might be a great place for you to make some noise. People don't like Alford, but eh man knows basketball.

AtLeastMyTeamHasPerfectSeasons writes:

Hope it works out, you're still a Vol to me!

UTVOLSRROCKN writes:

Best of luck to you E. May the good Lord be with you and bless you!

jryevols#222657 writes:

Ah at last his new nickname emerges with all respect and dignity........ IRONMAN
The device that was placed into his heart is and always will be second place to his " CLASS "
Basketball doesn't control his life , God does

johnlg00 writes:

in response to BIVOLAR_BEAR:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Instead of going into a whole long dissertation about liability law, suffice it to say that a small-time skydiving operation and a state university are not the same thing, and signed waivers have nowhere near the "magical" properties you suggest, especially in the latter case. The only mystery to me in this whole situation is why New Mexico WOULD take the chance of allowing Negedu to play there. If he does so with no adverse consequences, I will be just as happy for him as if he had done it here, but all I have been able to learn about the situation tells me that that is a low-probability outcome. I hope I'm wrong.

us43137415#376444 writes:

in response to beachvol1:

I agree Negedu is a role model and great inspiration to have on the team, but when you have two major programs that do not find him fit enough to take court, then something really is wrong and I just hope NM knows what they are doing and not sacrificing this young man's life for the benefit of their bb program..for once Mike Hamilton did the right thing and it was for the players benefit not the University..I wish it could have worked out, but only the "Almighty" knows that answer!!! Good luck young man and GOD Speed!!!!

I agree with you, but to some of these posters, you're preaching to a rock..

The people who post that "if New Mexico will take Emmanuel, then why can't we keep him" are idiots.

If, God forbid, something bad happened to him on the court, on live TV with 20,000 people watching it in the arena, they would be the first posters saying "well, why didn't we get rid of him?"

To those posters, I would say this..

When you break your leg in 8 places, I'd better see you at your desk tomorrow. No excuses. If you're not there, you're fired, and don't even think about an unemployment check. I will rework the books to show that you quit. And I don't care how many kids you gotta feed. I don't care about your kids..they're not mine. That's what we have welfare for. Be in your seat tomorrow ready to work, and if you cry out in pain, I'll bring an extra gag.

Extreme? Oh yeah.. Maybe those idiots will understand Hamilton's decision if it directly affects them.

Good luck and Godspeed, Emmanuel. Take the Lord and my prayers with you.

civilianvol_formerly_marinevol writes:

in response to mdanger:

@volfan53:
Knoxville is a more violent place than Albuquerque. It's violent crime rate is 1.62 times the national average, Albuquerque's is 1.42.

Source: http://www.cityrating.com/citycrime.a...

That statistic may be somewhat misleading since it includes the city rather than the entire metropolitan area. Within the city, Knoxville ranks 41 and Albuquerque ranks 72. However, when expanded to the metropolitan area (the lower the number the higher the crime rate), Knoxville ranks 104th and Albuquerque ranks 8th, indicating that the Albuquerque area is an extremely dangerous place to live. Memphis, by the way, ranks #2.
http://os.cqpress.com/citycrime/2009/...

civilianvol_formerly_marinevol writes:

in response to civilianvol_formerly_marinevol:

That statistic may be somewhat misleading since it includes the city rather than the entire metropolitan area. Within the city, Knoxville ranks 41 and Albuquerque ranks 72. However, when expanded to the metropolitan area (the lower the number the higher the crime rate), Knoxville ranks 104th and Albuquerque ranks 8th, indicating that the Albuquerque area is an extremely dangerous place to live. Memphis, by the way, ranks #2.
http://os.cqpress.com/citycrime/2009/...

Incidentally, these same statistics rank New York at 240th in crime, meaning that Johnson City (261st) would be the only city in Tennessee that is safer than New York. Having lived in New York and Knoxville, I don't have much faith in these statistics.

orangeman1 writes:

in response to V_O_L_S_GO_VOLS_GO:

Because there's always the question of "what if?" I'm never really one to defend Hammy myself, but I guess to play devil's advocate, would you like to be in his shoes if something DID happen to Emanuel, heaven forbid during a GAME? I wouldn't. I don't necessarily like his decision, either, but I respect and understand it and say 'let's wish him the best and move on.'

Basically this came down to Hamilton making his decision about whats best for the University. It was a selfish decision considering Negedu's will to play and Dr.s clearance, but he decided whats best for the university. I hope E does well and lives the life he wants and thinks best for him. Just wish he could have been wearing orange doing it.

osbymartin#581730 writes:

I hope him all the best! Now we can finally put this dead issue to bed.

orangeman1 writes:

in response to osbymartin#581730:

I hope him all the best! Now we can finally put this dead issue to bed.

This issue yes, but I'm sure we will get updates of him and other former Vol transfers in both football and basketball. Its good in a way because you mostly want those players to achieve their goals. When I check the scoreboard on the bottom of the screen it will remind me of them.

budd#207344 writes:

in response to DukeDeLuca:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Stick to shilling for fulmer.

osbymartin#581730 writes:

in response to orangeman1:

This issue yes, but I'm sure we will get updates of him and other former Vol transfers in both football and basketball. Its good in a way because you mostly want those players to achieve their goals. When I check the scoreboard on the bottom of the screen it will remind me of them.

Oh I understand that we will hear about former players and such. His case will be a little different than others...to me once they transfer from UT it doesn't matter how they do. I am concerned with the Vols. I keep up with Vols in the pros...but transfers in general not a concern of mine.

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