Herd Family loses Dr. Ricard, Donte Newsome

The Marshall University athletic family suffered two losses this morning, as a beloved team physician passed away while a former Herd football player was shot and killed in Huntington. Dr. Jose Ricard, team physician since 1981, passed away this morning. Ricard was team physician-emeritus for MU. Donte Newsome, playing AF2 in Amarillo, Texas, was shot and killed near a Huntington club at 3 a.m.

Ricard, 81-years old, had battled heart problems in recent years, and is believed to have died of congestive heart failure this morning at his home. He was a native of Cuba who fled communism and came to the state of West Virginia in 1963. A graduate of Havana University for both his undergraduate and degree in medicine (1960), Ricard fought in the war against Fidel Castro as a lieutenant in the Medical Corps from 1956-59. After Castro's communist forces took over the Cuban government, Ricard was chosen by Castro as the Cuban Olympic Team Physician, as the two had attended Havana University at the same time as undergraduates. Ricard was the Cuban Sports Medicine Director before escaping to the United States on a sports trip to Mexico, riding a bus into the U.S. in disguise and claiming asylum. Ricard remains a member of the Cuban Medical Association, in exile.

Ricard then worked at the Saint Joseph Infirmary Hospital in Atlanta, Ga., before coming to Huntington, and renting office space from Dr. Tom Scott, one of his fellow members of the MU Sports Medicine Hall of Fame. Ricard had his own private practice as a family physician for many years before becoming a member of Marshall University's Family Practice in the MU School of Medicine since the 1990s. He, Scott, MU President Robert Hayes and many others were at the forefront of pushing for a Marshall University Medical School in the 1970s.

With Marshall University, Ricard has held many positions in the Sports Medicine program. He was an Associate Professor in the Family Medicine Department in the MU School of Medicine, the Director of the MU Athletic Department Sports Medicine program and Co-Chairman of the MU School of Medicine Family Practice Sports Medicine Department. He was one of driving forces to establish the MU Sports Medicine Hall of Fame. He and his wife, Amy, have presented a scholarship to the outstanding student-trainer at Marshall each year, and Ricard had recently commissioned a book on the history of the Sports Medicine Program at MU which is due out this fall.

Ricard has been honored many times for his contributions to Thundering Herd Athletics over the years. He is a member of the Marshall University Athletic Hall of Fame and the MU Sports Medicine Hall of Fame -- one of two sports medicine inductees to be in the MU HOF, and the only doctor. He received a Lifetime Member Recognition Award by the Big Green Scholarship Fund, the fund-raising arm of MU athletics. Ricard became an honorary alumnus of Marshall University in 1986. In addition, he was the "Doctor of the Year" for the WV Chapter American Academy of Family Physicians. He and Amy were long-time members of the Marshall Quarterback Club, at first the Tip-Off, now Victory Club for men's basketball, women's basketball's Locker Room Club, Tennis Booster Club and Soccer Booster Club. He has two daughters, Rachel, Rocky of "The Dawg, 93.7 FM" and the Thundering Herd/ISP Sports Network, and Jacqueline, and is one of nine children himself. Ricard counts among his many friends fellow Cuban exile, former Cincinnati Reds first baseman on the 1975-76 "Big Red Machine" and Major League Baseball Hall of Fame member Tony Perez of the Florida Marlins.

The Marshall player who died was former linebacker and running back Donte Newsome. Newsome, 25, died from his injuries at St. Mary's Medical Center, according to a report in Saturday's The Herald-Dispatch on-line. Police are not releasing the names of the other two victims, who were also transported to St. Mary's, but said their injuries were not life-threatening. Sources have told Herd Insider at least one of those other persons injured is former MU safety Curtis Keyes. The shooting happened at about 3 a.m. in front of Fluid night club at 611 4th Ave. Other former Herd players were reportedly at the club at the time of the shooting.

Donte Newsome (No. 34), shown during the 2007 AIFA All-Star season with the Huntington Heroes, died from gunshot wounds this morning in Huntington, W.Va. He led the AIFA in rushing last season and helped the Heroes to a 10-5 mark and the playoffs. photo courtesy of Huntington Heroes

Newsome played linebacker and running back for Marshall from 2002-2005. In three seasons (freshman, sophomore and senior) on defense, he had 51 tackles with a career-best 24 as a senior for current head coach Mark Snyder's first club in 2005. In 2004, Newsome helped head coach Bob Pruett and the Herd advance to the PlainsCapital Fort Worth Bowl by rushing for 110 yards and two touchdowns, including a 52-yard scoring run against Miami, Ohio, and a touchdown against Buffalo.

Newsome played for the Huntington Heroes in 2006-07, alongside of former Herd players Michael "Kool-Aid" Owens, Dionte Wilson, Chris Royal, Jamus Martin and Nate McPeek, leading the AIFA in rushing and being named to the AIFA All-Star team for 2007. Newsome was a member of the 2008 Amarillo Dusters of the Arena Football League's AF2, a secondary league for the AFL. He had 11 touchdowns in eight games and was reportedly in Huntington for an open weekend for the team.

For McPeek, who started 2000-2003 at offensive tackle, both deaths were a shock. "There wasn't a person who ever did as much for Marshall as Dr. Ricard," said McPeek, who will be a head football coach at a Kentucky high school this fall. "Then to hear about Donte being killed is a double blow, not to mention losing Johnathan Goddard just a couple of weeks ago. They were good teammates and good guys."

The death of Dr. Ricard and murder of Donte Newsome comes on the heels of the last month's death of former defensive end Johnathan Goddard, who died on June 15 in a single-vehicle accident near his home in Jacksonville, Fla. Goddard was killed in a motorcycle crash.

"We are shocked to hear about what happened last night," said Randy Burnside, sports information director with the Marshall Athletic Department. "On behalf of the athletic department, our thoughts and prayers are with the Newsome family and the families of the others who were injured."

Donte Newsome, shown playing in the AF2 this season for the Amarillo Dusters of the AF2, was named AF2/Schutt Offensive Player of the Week for his game against Bossier-Shreveport. photo courtesy of Amarillo Dusters, AF2

Newsome was a AF2 Player of the Week for Week 4, chosen as the Schutt Offensive Player of the Week for his performance against the Bossier-Shreveport Battlewings. "Donte is such a tremendous all-around athlete," said Dusters head coach, Chris MacKeown. "He has exceptional quickness for his size and is intelligent on the field." Newsome led in rushing yards for the Dusters with 13 carries for 22 yards and 5 touchdowns. He scored two of those touchdowns in the 2nd quarter and two in the 3rd quarter. His final touchdown in the fourth quarter with only 12 seconds to go in the game sealed the win for the Dusters.

Newsome was fourth on the Dusters in scoring with 66 points, he had the second most kickoff returns with 15/273 yards (18.2 yards per return) and is tied for third in interceptions with one for a five-yard return. He is fourth on the team with 29 rushes for 47 yards, and had 11 touchdowns in eight games.

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