"It was one of those calls you dread," Rodriguez said. "What do you say? The doctors had already told him, and here's a young man, 18 years old, one of the best athletes on the team, could run all day, and now he is paralyzed for life. I said ‘Look, Cisco, I'm sorry. I don't know what to say.' He said ‘Coach, that's ok. I'll be in the wheelchair Olympics in four years.'"
Four years later, Jeter owned a gold medal in the 400 meter relay and a bronze in the 800-meters in the 1992 Paralympic Games. He nearly made the 1996 Paralympic Team. When Jeter visisted the Puskar Center Wednesday, Rodriguez told the team that story. Now, Jeter might be able to not only provide inspiration for the Mountaineers, but help them avoid further outbreaks of mono and the dreaded MRSA, or Mersa, a staph infection that is highly contagious in a setting like a football locker room, weight room or practice field.
Jeter works for a pharmaceutical company that produces an antibacterial mist/spray for locker rooms and gymnasiums. He has marketed it to many high school teams, and is embarking on the collegiate level. It would minimize the bacteria count, and could assist in helping rid teams of larger outbreaks of mono, MRSA and other infections.
"Due to the fear of spreading of MRSA," Rodriguez said, "it is really serious. If you have a large number of people sweating and bleeding, particularly on an artificial field, it can ruin you and endanger the health of your young men."
Jeter spoke with the team as well. Rodriguez said it was "inspirational," much like his comments 20 years ago, when what Jeter said shocked Rodriguez. The coach said he could not believe someone in that condition would have a big smile after an event like that. WVU will not likely have the spray this season, but Rodriguez noted that it was "definitely something we should be looking into."
The University of Georgia has six players afflicted with MRSA in the last three seasons. Players at the University of Kansas have also been affected. According to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the total percentage of reported staph infections involving MRSA has risen from two percent in 1974, to 22 percent in 1994, to 63 percent in 2004. And, over time, it has developed a resistance to many of the most commonly used antibiotics, so Jeter's new product could be a must in coming seasons.