Right after Penn State finished up its victory over Nebraska on Saturday afternoon, Billy Oliver announced that he was ending his basketball career due to concussion-related symptoms that have forced him to miss games since the 2008-09 season. Back in 2008, Oliver suffered two concussions in preseason workouts and he hasn’t been able to play a full season since then.
Most recently, Oliver’s issues have resurfaced starting with him getting sick at halftime when Penn State hosted Minnesota on January 15. After that, he sat out four straight games before returning for Penn State’s road games at Iowa and Michigan State. Now, though, he has decided that he should no longer continue to play.
StateCollege.com has the reactions:
“I have put a lot of thought into this, not to continue my basketball career at Penn State,” an emotional Oliver said.
“It’s very hard, we talked about it the other night,” junior guard Tim Frazier said of his roommate. “I tried to talk him into playing this game, but he made the right choice for himself. He’s a brother of mine and he’s going to be here next year and he’s still going to be the same Billy Oliver that we love and cherish.”
“Billy and I talked for two days, it was a very emotional talk,” Penn State coach Pat Chambers said. “Talked to the team last night and it was very emotional. I hope my son Ryan ends up like Billy Oliver someday. He works hard every day and gives you everything he has. He’s just an unbelievable person.”
These quotes do a lot to demonstrate the difference between what actually goes on inside the locker room and what a blogger like me gets from watching games on television. To me, Oliver was just a goofy kid who loved to shoot three-pointers, but he obviously meant a lot more than that to Penn State.
I know back when he was just a freshman, I was frustrated by Oliver’s inability to get on the court, so it must have been thousands of times worse for him. Head injuries are obviously serious and I hope that by taking himself off the court, Oliver can get away from the problems that have bothered him for his whole career.
Oliver will reportedly stay with the team for the rest of the season and help out in whatever way he can while finishing up his Finance degree. For the 2012-13 season, he plans to take a medical redshirt (which will allow Penn State to add another scholarship player if they choose) and work as a graduate assistant while going after a second degree in Economics.
I know I’ll always remember Billy Oliver the basketball player for his funny “Dolla Billz” nickname and for his seven three-pointers against Purdue this season. Good luck Billy. If every Penn State player gives the kind of effort you gave every day, the future of the program is bright for sure.