CHICAGO — Tragedy struck just days before the 2016 Big Ten Football Media Days were scheduled to begin as Nebraska punter Sam Foltz and former Michigan State punter Mike Sadler both died Saturday in a single-car accident on their way back from a kicking camp in Wisconsin.
Fellow student-athletes, coaches and fans across the country and especially in the Big Ten responded to the news with an outpouring of support, and that support continued today as nearly every head coach began their opening statements at the event by expressing their deepest sympathies with everyone affected.
Pat Fitzgerald - Northwestern
Good morning. It’s with heavy heart and great sadness that I kick off here this morning. Obviously, the tragic news the passing of Sam Foltz and Mike Sadler over the weekend. On behalf of Northwestern, our football program and all our players we’d like to express all the thoughts and prayers to their families, Coach Dantonio, Coach Riley and the Spartan and Husker families on their tragic loss. We recruited Mike and know him well. And just sad, tragic news and our thoughts and prayers are with them.
Darrell Hazell - Purdue
Good afternoon, it’s great to be here. And first let me extend my condolences to Nebraska and Michigan State for their tragic losses. It’s a sad day for those families there.
Chris Ash - Rutgers
Good afternoon. Great to see everybody here. I’d like to follow up by echoing the coaches comments to give the best to the players and the fans of Nebraska and Michigan State with the loss of Sam and Mike. Tremendous individuals from what I’ve heard, and I know it’s a tough loss for those two programs. It’s never easy when you lose one of your own and part of your family. We’d like to give our best to those guys and those programs.
James Franklin - Penn State
Really appreciate the opportunity to be here representing Penn State and the Big Ten again. Really appreciate everybody coming out to support our programs and to support our student-athletes.
Want to start by starting out by giving my condolences to both Nebraska, Michigan State and the Foltz and Sadler families. Devastating to hear that news. I’ve been through that in my coaching career as well and I don't think it’s something you ever are prepared for or can handle.
But our support and condolences go out to them.
Tracy Claeys - Minnesota
Before I get started I would like to express my sympathies and those of our players to the University of Nebraska, Michigan State University, friends and family over the loss of two great young men. Went way too early. Tough deal.
Lovie Smith – Illinois
I would also like to express — just like to give our prayers to the University of Nebraska and Michigan State on the loss of two of their football players. You just never know each day, but to live like it's your last day but when you lose two young men like that, of course it's tragic.
Kevin Wilson - Indiana
Like a lot of us, again, our thoughts with not just the Nebraska and Michigan State football families, but I had a chance at the National Football Foundation to actually sit with Mike Sadler's parents a couple years ago. We had a player up for that deal.
So as a dad and two kids in college and several kids in high school, just feel for their families. And as a program, we send our prayers for those guys.
Mark Dantonio - Michigan State
First off, I'd like to express our condolences to the Mike Sadler family and also to Sam Foltz and Husker nation as well. What occurred on Sunday is very tragic in regards to Mike. He was a giver. He lived life. There was no take in Mike Sadler. He made everybody's life around him better. We'll miss him terribly.
Paul Chryst - Wisconsin
Certainly, truly appreciative and proud to have this opportunity today to represent the University of Wisconsin and our football program. And really on behalf of our Wisconsin football family we'd like to express our thoughts and prayers to the Foltz and Sadler families and their friends, and certainly the football families of Michigan State and Nebraska.
I thought Mike Riley, Sunday I was able to see when talking about the impact that Sam had on him, and I think that gets lost sometimes in all of this is that we as coaches certainly hope to and want to impact our student-athletes, the players that we coach. But we really are impacted in so many different ways by the kids, the young men that we get to coach.
That's one of the great things about coaching. I know it's what drives me and fuels me.
Urban Meyer - Ohio State
Thanks for being here, and it's an honor to represent The Ohio State University and the Big Ten Conference in our fifth year as a staff. Like the other members of our Big Ten family, our thoughts and prayers for the Foltz and Sadler family and the tragedy that was just experienced.
Nebraska head coach Mike Riley and his three student-athlete representatives, Tommy Armstrong Jr., Josh Banderas and Jordan Westerkamp, were slated to appear today but elected not to attend in light of what transpired.