Willie Taggart is Oregon’s new head coach and like many of his ilk, wasted little time in regime change. This time of year, that means tougher strength and conditioning work, under the direction of a new S&C coach he brought in.
At least three Oregon Ducks football players were hospitalized after enduring a series of grueling strength and conditioning workouts at UO last week, The Oregonian/OregonLive has learned.
Offensive linemen Doug Brenner and Sam Poutasi and tight end Cam McCormick are in fair condition and remained at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at Riverbend in Springfield on Monday, a hospital spokeswoman said. They have been in the hospital since late last week after workouts that occurred during the team’s return from holiday break.
Poutasi’s mother, Oloka, said that her son complained of very sore arms after the workouts and had been diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, a syndrome in which soft muscle tissue is broken down with “leakage into the blood stream of muscle contents,” according to the NCAA medical handbook. Depending on the severity, it has the potential to lead to damaged kidneys.
Nice. But the school is very sorry.
“The safety and welfare of all of our student-athletes is paramount in all that we do,” Oregon wrote in a statement on behalf of the entire athletic department. “While we cannot comment on the health of our individual students, we have implemented modifications as we transition back into full training to prevent further occurrences.
“We thank our medical staff and trainers for their continued monitoring of the students and we will continue to support our young men as they recover.”
Actually, I have to give Oregon a little more credit than that.
The University of Oregon suspended football strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde one month without pay after three players were hospitalized following a series of intense workouts last week.
The school announced the decision in a statement Tuesday evening and detailed a review of the incident. It added that all future workouts have been modified and the strength and conditioning coach will now report to director of performance and sports science Andrew Murray instead of coach Willie Taggart, who apologized in the statement. [Emphasis added.]
Oregon’s statement detailed that players began an off-season conditioning program last Tuesday after six weeks away from “football-related activities” and Oderinde led those workouts.
I wonder how many other D-1 head coaches have lost control over their strength and conditioning programs after only one month on the job. For that matter, I wonder how many other D-1 head coaches have lost control over their strength and conditioning programs.
But here’s what I really don’t get.
The NCAA medical handbook listed “novel workouts or exercises immediately following a transitional period” such as a winter break as one of its 10 factors that can increase the risk of rhabdomyolysis. It also cautioned that “all training programs should start slowly, build gradually, include adequate rest and allow for individual differences.”
The NCAA constantly blathers about its concern for the well-being of student-athletes. Where is it in this mess? The reason this came to light was because of media reports. But for that, it’s likely that Taggart wouldn’t have been penalized. Is waving a medical handbook the best the organization can offer? Don’t answer that…