When the University of Illinois found out that Bobby Roundtree suffered a serious spinal injury during a swimming accident in Florida, Lovie Smith made an immediate trip to Tampa. The head coach of the Illini wanted to show his support for one of his players.
Smith went above and beyond the call of duty as a head coach. It’s something the Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman admires about his head football coach.
On Tuesday, Whitman met with the media during a roundtable discussion about Illinois athletics, Roundtree’s accident and health situation, as well as Smith’s support, were topics of discussion.
From Illini Inquirer:
“There aren’t a lot of power-five football coaches who would’ve done what Lovie Smith did over those weeks,” Whitman said. “He essentially lived in the hospital and slept in Bobby’s room. He may or may not be comfortable with me sharing those details, but that’s the kind of person that we have as our head football coach. It was pretty powerful to see him there and to see the way he cared about his student-athlete and to know that was representative about all the student-athletes involved in our program. It was really meaningful to me to see, and I know it was meaningful to Bobby and a strong indication to the rest of our team of coach’s heart and the way he cares about what they’re doing.”
While fans are always going to look at the win-loss record when it comes to the head coach, it proves that college athletics isn’t only about victories and defeats.
Whitman also updated Roundtree’s status, saying the defensive tackle has been transported from a Tampa-area hospital to Chicago. He will undergo three-to-six months of rehab before returning to Champaign as a student.