Report: UM's Pipkins says he was 'pressured' to retire

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Michigan defensive tackle Ondre Pipkins

Michigan defensive lineman Ondre Pipkins told ESPN that he felt pressure from new coach Jim Harbaugh take a medical hardship and retire.

Pipkins confirmed Friday via social media he will play his senior year elsewhere.

"It's been a tough past couple of months for me and it is true that I will be looking to play my last year of eligibility at another school," Pipkins wrote Friday. "I wanted nothing more than just to be #Great at playing for the Maize and Blue.

"To my brothers and the senior class of Michigan Football I deeply apologize for not being able to complete this journey because I know that we were looking forward to this season more than ever. I love you guys and I will cherish our memories forever. I hope you all understand that this was the best decision for me and my family."

Pipkins thanked former Michigan coach Brady Hoke and former assistants Jeff Hecklinski and Jerry Montgomery for recruiting him to Michigan. Pipkins thanked his support system.

"I can't wait to see what the good lord has in store for me in the near future," Pipkins wrote.

Pipkins, in a story that appeared Friday on ESPN.com, said Harbaugh, head athletic trainer Paul Schmidt and associate athletic director Jim Minick, asked him multiple times over a two-month period to sign a medical scholarship form that would end his career.

Pipkins, who played last season after he was cleared to return from a torn knee ligament, said he felt healthy and ready to play.

"I don't want to sign the form," Pipkins told ESPN. "I wanted to play for my seniors and for the team. Coach Harbaugh said, 'I recommend you take the medical.'"

Harbaugh, in a statement to ESPN, said that after consulting with the program's medical team, "we do not think it is in Ondre's best interest as it relates to his health and welfare to play football, short or long term."

Pipkins said Harbaugh urged him to graduate from Michigan and remains on full scholarship, but he told ESPN he plans to transfer for his senior season. He said Harbaugh told him he will not have an NFL career because of medical reasons.

During his freshman season in 2012, Pipkins suffered a neck injury during preseason camp and was taken to the hospital for precautionary measures. In a statement at the time from Hoke, Pipkins had movement in his extremities after suffering the injury. Pipkins told ESPN he suffered two concussions at Michigan, most recently last spring, but he was cleared.

Since Hoke's firing and Harbaugh's hiring at Michigan, several players have left the program.

Linebacker Michael Ferns and offensive lineman Kyle Bosch have transferred to West Virginia, running back Justice Hayes moved on to Southern Mississippi, cornerback Blake Countess transferred to Auburn and Jack Miller, Michigan's starting center last year, decided to retire from the game.