Football Weight training Program
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.
"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."
Oregon coach Willie Taggart visited Riverbend to meet with some of the hospitalized players before leaving the state to recruit.
Players this week were required to finish the same workouts, which were described by multiple sources as akin to military basic training, with one said to include up to an hour of continuous push-ups and up-downs. An Oregon official disputed a claim that some players had "passed out, " saying the training staff did not see any players faint; another UO official later said that athletic trainers were available to those who needed treatment during the workouts.
On social media Monday, some players expressed their belief the severity of the workouts had been exaggerated, and that they had been difficult but not out of the ordinary.
Junior cornerback Ugochukwu Amadi wrote on Twitter: "The workout was not even what the media is portraying it to be."
Some players later complained of discolored urine, which is a common symptom of rhabdomyolysis. After testing, others were found to have highly elevated levels of creatine kinase, an indicator of the syndrome.
Rhabdomyolysis can be triggered after a spike in intensity of an athlete's workouts and by overexertion during those workouts. For the first time since 2004, Oregon did not qualify for a postseason bowl game in 2016, and players were left to exercise on their own during their nearly monthlong break from school. Oregon hired Irele Oderinde its new football strength and conditioning coach earlier this month. He followed Taggart from South Florida, where Oderinde had worked as the school's director of athletic performance since 2014.
The 6-foot-2, 310-pound Brenner is entering his senior season, while the 6-4, 315-pound Poutasi and 6-5, 240-pound McCormick will be eligible to play in 2017 after using last fall to redshirt.
Reports of multiple players being affected by rhabdomyolysis are rare. In August, eight volleyball players from Texas Women's University were hospitalized. In 2011, 13 players from the University of Iowa were hospitalized due to the syndrome after working out during their winter conditioning program. In August 2010, two dozen football players from McMinnville High School were hospitalized, with some requiring surgery, after complaining of intense workouts held in high heat with little water.
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."