During halftime of the Minnesota women’s basketball game against UCLA on Friday, a Minnesota pep band member was injured during an on-court promotions race. The student, Jeff Denmark, a sophomore percussionist from Eagan was wearing a sumo suit when the accident happened.
Denmark was joined on the court by fellow band members in a relay race during the opening game of the Subway Classic at Williams Arena. Denmark was the anchor of his team with the job of wearing the sumo suit and racing from one end of the court and back.
At the finish line, Denmark flopped down as the winner of the race, but in the process, his head hit the hard court and on-site medical staff rushed to his side.
Denmark (pictured right) was wearing a hockey helmet during the fall and had to be cut out of the foam suit by paramedics. The fall and medical assistance delayed the halftime of the game by roughly 10 to 15 minutes.
Minnesota athletic director Norwood Teague, who was sitting courtside when the accident occurred, immediately jumped on his phone and went near the accident scene.
Joining Denmark on the court for the race was freshman percussionist Eric Schmitt — also from Eagan (seen wearing the basketball jersey in the picture).
“He was responsive and smiling when he left the court,” Schmitt said. “The helmet is definitely what saved him.”
It is unclear the nature of Denmark’s injuries, but as it stands, it’s likely that we won’t see the sumo suit race at Williams Arena for a while — unless they duct tape the suit back together.