confirmed yesterday that the third-ranked Ducks will be without star cornerback
when they face
and Florida State in their playoff game Jan. 1.
Helfrich acknowledged the senior, a first-team All-America selection, won't play after he was injured during a noncontact drill Tuesday.
"Very unfortunate for him," said Helfrich, who wouldn't disclose the nature of the injury.
A person with knowledge of the injury told the Associated Press on Wednesday that Ekpre-Olomu hurt his right knee. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the program does not discuss injuries.
Ekpre-Olomu has been a cornerstone of the Ducks' secondary with 63 tackles, two interceptions and six pass breakups this season, and is widely considered among the top cornerbacks for next year's NFL draft.
"I'm very confident we're going to be fine," secondary coach John Neal said. "But the tough thing from a personal aspect is just to see Ifo in this situation. It's just really hard to look at him, as a coach and as a friend, and think of all the things he's done for us and to have something like that happen out of nowhere . . . is very tragic."
Neal said the Ducks will start redshirt freshman Chris Seisay in Ekpre-Olomu's place. Seisay has played in all but two games this season and has 20 tackles and one forced fumble.
In other college football news:
* Wisconsin's Paul Chryst got a 5-year deal to return to become the head coach at his alma mater. He will make $2.3 million in his first year. A Madison native, Chryst returned home after three seasons as the head coach at Pittsburgh. He takes over after Gary Andersen surprised Wisconsin by leaving for Oregon State after 2 years on the job.
Darrell Wallace Jr.
signed a deal with Roush Fenway Racing and will drive the No. 6 Ford in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.
* Track announcer Tom Durkin will receive the Eclipse Award of Merit for outstanding lifetime achievement in the thoroughbred industry.Durkin, 64, was the longtime voice of the New York Racing Association tracks, the Breeders' Cup and the Triple Crown. He retired Aug. 30 at Saratoga Race Course.
* The president of the Italian Cycling Federation is calling on law-enforcement authorities to prevent banned physician Michele Ferrari from seeing riders anymore and conclude his long-running stain on the sport. Lance Armstrong acknowledged Ferrari was his trainer.