There’s a chance that Purdue center Isaac Haas may return to play in the NCAA Tournament, after all.
The NCAA announced on Friday morning that it has amended a rule interpretation, allowing padding to be used to cover casts, braces, guards or other protective gear on elbows, forearms and wrists. As a result, there’s a chance that Haas — who fractured his right elbow in the team’s first round matchup against Cal State Fullerton — may be able to play on Friday night against Texas Tech while wearing a qualified brace.
However, the senior’s availability for the Sweet 16 game will be determined by Purdue coach Matt Painter, game officials, the medical staff and Haas himself.
According to the release, Painter told NCAA.com in a text on Thursday that “nothing would change [on Haas’ playing status] unless he shows me something different at shoot around [Friday].’’
In order to get approval, NCAA Senior Vice President of basketball Dan Gavitt worked with Purdue athletic director Mike Bobinski and the NCAA Committee on Competitive Safeguards and Medical Aspects of Sports (CSMAS) to get approval. In addition, NCAA basketball secretary-rules editor Art Hyland was involved in the process.
“With ample time this week to review the intent of the playing rule, the committee decided to provide a more contemporary interpretation, while keeping health and safety for all players the highest priority,” said Gavitt in the release. “Technology has improved materials used in braces, so now there will be more flexibility in applying the rule as long as the brace is fully covered and padded. Isaac and other players in similar circumstances should be able to play, as long as the brace is safe for all.”
The CSMAS determined that padding can be used in order to make braces made of fiberglass, metal, plaster or any other non-pliable substance safe. The releases also states that CSMAS emphasized that officials must continue to check on the brace throughout the game, making sure hard or sharp edges from the brace don’t become exposed.
When Haas first went down with the injury, Purdue engineering grad students began working on a brace that Haas could wear during a game.
“They used carbon fiber, rubber and some leather,’’ Bobinski said in the release. “There was some old-school material. The carbon fiber is high tech, light and pliable. They believe it gives him lots of protection.’’
The 7-foot-2, 290-pound Haas sustained the injury after a hard fall against Cal State Fullerton. He did not play in Purdue’s second-round meeting against Butler.
This season Haas is averaging 14.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.3 blocks for the Boilermakers.