Senior men’s golfer possibly seeking redshirt

By Tom Burton

DeKALB | The golf staff is deciding how to handle men’s senior golfer Joo-Young Lee, who became concussed mid-September before the start of the season.

Lee, of Hillard, Ohio, has been under the NCAA’s concussion protocol since then and has given three baseline tests for return but was unable to get to the level required to return to action.

Lee would be allowed to return to action a week after passing the concussion tests.

The recovery process has taken longer than expected, presenting Lee and the coaching staff with a decision to make regarding the golfer’s future.

“He is getting better, but there are still enough [concussion] symptoms that when he tests, he doesn’t get all the way back to where he was,” said head coach Tom Porten.

Student athletes are allowed five years to complete his or her four years of athletic eligibility, which has presented the option of redshirting Lee for the season. Redshirting Lee would give him another year of eligibility, allowing him to return to NIU golf next fall.

The coaching staff said the soonest Lee could return if he passed Thursday’s tests would be Oct. 24 and 25 the team’s last event of the fall season at the Pine Tree Intercollegiate in Kennesaw, Georgia. However, Lee and the team are accepting that shutting him down for the rest of this season may be the best option.

“If we’ve lost him in the fall, there is no point in using all of his eligibility for one [spring] semester of golf,” Porten said. “It is definitely a missed opportunity.”

Porten said this may be a good opportunity for Lee to get ahead in his business degree, making golf a priority for Lee in the fall 2017 semester.

If redshirted, Lee would miss out on a chance to qualify for the highly anticipated Division I National Championships in May at Rich Harvest Farms in Sugar Grove.

Lee made it a goal of his at the beginning of the season for the team to qualify and have a chance to win that tournament.

“I’d like to be an All-American first team [and have a] shot at winning the NCAA Championship at Rich Harvest Farms,” Lee said in an Aug. 30 interview on his goals for the season. “I think we have a chance to win the MAC for sure and make a run at the [NCAA Championships].”

Lee and the coaching staff are trying to come to the realization that it would be best for him to take the process slowly and redshirt him, but it is mostly at the player’s discretion.

“It would be a discussion with him and what he wants to do,” Porten said. “Ultimately, it is his decision based on a conversation with our staff.”

Porten and the coaching staff are very optimistic about Lee’s return next fall, if he were to be redshirted this year. They want him to have a full senior year season.

Lee can only watch as the team will continue their season at the Northern Intercollegiate this weekend at Beverly Country Club in Chicago.