Immediately following Saturday’s game against N.C. State, the South Carolina State men’s basketball team departed PNC Arena and headed directly to UNC Rex Hospital. The players were met there by their coach, Murray Garvin, and ushered to the room of their fallen teammate.
“It was a great moment just to see the joy on everyone’s face that their teammate was OK,” said Garvin, S.C. State’s fifth-year head coach, on Monday.
With 13:08 remaining in the first half, senior starting point guard Ty Solomon collapsed while sitting on the bench and, according to Wake County EMS workers, stopped breathing. Tyler Long, a graduate student and the team’s athletic trainer, immediately administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation to Solomon with assistance from Wake County Emergency Medical Services.
Players from both teams stood or knelt, and a crowd of a few thousand watched in silence.
Solomon remains at Rex Hospital in stable condition. Two days after his collapse, a university community in Orangeburg, S.C., was still shaken by what happened.
“It was truly one of the scariest moments I’ve had, not just in coaching, but in life, period,” Garvin said. “I respect him as a young man. He’s such an outstanding young person. He’s going to persevere through all of this.”
Solomon arrived at S.C. State four years ago in tumultuous times for the basketball program and the university. Garvin had inherited a sinking program in the middle of the 2013-14 season, one suffering along with the entire university through budgetary problems that nearly led to the elimination of men’s and women’s basketball.
Basketball survived the chopping block, but by Solomon’s junior season, scholarship money had been trimmed to the point where Garvin had to let some players go. Solomon was one of them. He dropped out of school and returned home to Johns Island, S.C.
Solomon found work in swimming pool maintenance at a Charleston resort, all the while keeping in touch with Garvin, sometimes even offering advice on what the coach should do with his basketball team.
The job made Solomon realize he needed to return to school, and Garvin offered him a partial scholarship. So, Solomon paid the remainder of his tuition on his own and returned to the team for the second semester a season ago.
“He’s a kid who has stuck with our program through it all,” Garvin said of Solomon. “He never wavered, never talked about transferring.”
On track to graduate next December with an engineering degree, Solomon saw his senior season as one to shine. He had developed into Garvin’s coach on the floor and in the locker room. Through S.C. State’s difficult early season schedule of games at Coastal Carolina, Wisconsin, Boston College, Yale, UCLA, Winthrop and N.C. State, Solomon had accumulated an impressive 24 assists against only 11 turnovers.
Then he collapsed.
Long was the first to get to Solomon.
“I always say that heroes only show up during chaos, and he was the hero,” Garvin said of Long. “He just immediately jumped into action and handled the situation. For a young man his age, you would have thought he had been involved in a lot of life and death situations. He just really stepped in and did what he’s been trained to do, and did it very effectively.”
By Monday, Long had turned away several requests for interviews, claiming to Garvin that he “was just doing my job.”
Immediately after Solomon was wheeled from the court on a stretcher, N.C. State officials asked Garvin if he wanted to discontinue the game.
“It’s not my season. It’s their season, ask the players,” Garvin recalled telling the officials. “If they want to play, they can play. If they don’t, they don’t have to.”
The players met in the locker room and unanimously decided to play the remainder of the game for their teammate. The Bulldogs dropped a 103-71 decision. Then they met again prior to a home practice on Sunday and continued to express to one another how much love and bonding had occurred since the Saturday incident.
Garvin, who said he has been a “waterbag” since Saturday, broke down in tears during a telephone interview on Monday.
“The young man has some tough days ahead, and let’s just try to keep him in prayer,” Garvin said through tears. “That’s really my concern. Sometimes, after an event like that occurs and then the news stories about him come and they go, you forget that someone has still got to live a life.”