Student injured in pregame skit; briefly hospitalized

Willie the Wildcat tackles the fake West Virginia fan before the game on Saturday Oct. 26 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. The fake fan experienced a medical problem after the tackle and had to be taken to an ambulance shortly after.Photo credit: Emily DeShazer.

A member of the K-State cheer team was injured in a football pregame skit Saturday before the Wildcats took the field against the West Virginia Mountaineers. The skit, a longstanding tradition at K-State home games, involves a cheer team member dressed in the opposing team’s gear being tackled at midfield by Willie the Wildcat.

The student ran to midfield where Willie tackled him at full speed. The student began exhibiting seizure-like symptoms immediately after ground impact, but was not noticed by medical personnel for several moments due to the nature of the skit. Trainers on the West Virginia sideline were the first to respond.

Eventually, the student walked off the field with some assistance from trainers. He was secured onto a stretcher and loaded into an ambulance to a standing ovation from the ICAT student section. A statement released by Assistant Athletic Director for Communications Kenny Lannou said the student was taken to Mercy Regional Health Center, where he was evaluated and released.

“As a result, the Athletics Department is reviewing the practice of mascot skits and will determine the appropriate course of action going forward,” the press release said.

Lannou would not divulge the name of the student, but confirmed that there were no guarantees that the pregame skits would continue.

“Everything is being considered,” Lannou said.

Head cheerleading coach, Dannielle Ruoff, was not available for comment.

Shelton grew up in the desert southwest. A native of Lancaster, California, he mostly grew up in south Phoenix, Arizona; Austin, Texas; and Colorado Springs, Colorado before moving to Kansas and graduating from Junction City High School. He started working as a news writer for the Collegian in 2009 before taking a three-year break from college. He returned to K-State in 2013 and has since worked for the news desk, feature desk, as a copy editor and now as a sports writer. He enjoys tap dancing, writing anything possible, reading court opinions and watching Arizona Coyotes hockey.