University of Utah gymnast Stephanie Neff has retired from the sport on the advice of the team physician. Neff, a junior, has been placed on a medical hardship scholarship, which renders her permanently ineligible to train or compete.
"This is a big loss for our team and very difficult for Stephanie," said Utah coach Greg Marsden. "Unfortunately, she came to us with some significant back problems that never healed sufficiently for her to consistently train and compete. Our doctors have advised us that this is a decision that is in the best interests of her long-term health."
Neff, a native of Mesa, Ariz., missed the first half of the 2007 season. She competed in the last six regular-season meets and hit six of seven floor routines. Last season, Neff earned a starting spot in the floor lineup before being sidelined.
Neff's premature retirement leaves the 2009 Utes with 11 gymnasts one shy of the NCAA allowable scholarship figure. Returning from last year's NCAA runner-up squad are seniors Kristina Baskett and Nina Kim; juniors Daria Bijak, Jamie Deetscreek, Annie DiLuzio and Beth Rizzo; sophomores Jacquelyn Johnson, Gael Mackie and Kyndal Robarts; and freshmen Cortni Beers and Stephanie McAllister.