The University of Oregon athletics department has suspended the football strength and conditioning coach for a month without pay after the hospitalization of three players, and the new head coach issued an apology.
Tuesday’s announcement came after the university reviewed events surrounding last week’s training.
First reported by The Oregonian, three football players were hospitalized following strenuous off-season conditioning workouts. According to the report, they were diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, which is muscle damage severe enough to release a substance from the muscles into the bloodstream.
Rhabdomyolysis can be caused by extreme exertion, extreme body temperatures and severe dehydration, among other causes. If left untreated, the condition is dangerous because it can get into the kidneys and cause damage.
Irele Oderinde, the football strength and conditioning coach, led the workouts, which the training staff supervised.
“The university holds the health, safety and well-being of all of our students in high regard,” Oregon Athletic Director Rob Mullens said in a statement Tuesday. “We are confident that these athletes will soon return to full health, and we will continue to support them and their families in their recoveries.”
Head coach Willie Taggart also apologized Tuesday. The Ducks just hired the former University of South Florida head coach last month.
“I have visited with the three young men involved in the incidents in the past few days and I have been in constant contact with their families, offering my sincere apologies,” Taggart said in a statement.
“As the head football coach, I hold myself responsible for all of our football-related activities and the safety of our students must come first. I have addressed the issue with our strength and conditioning staff, and I fully support the actions taken today by the university. I want to thank our medical staff and doctors for caring for all of our young men, and I want to apologize to the university, our students, alumni and fans.”
Oderinde joined the Ducks this month. He had been the director of athletic performance for South Florida athletics, overseeing the strength and conditioning programs for all 19 South Florida programs and designing a year-round training program for the Bulls football team.
Oregon’s football program began its off-season conditioning on January 10 after a break from football-related activities for six weeks, according to an update the university released Tuesday.
On Thursday, after three days of workouts, one player complained of muscle soreness and displayed other symptoms of potential exercise-related injury.
“The medical staff examined the student-athlete, and took appropriate action pursuant to team’s medical protocols,” a university statement said.
“The medical staff informed coaches and staff of the diagnosis. Two additional student-athletes were then identified with similar symptoms and staff responded to them, as well.
“No other student-athletes have demonstrated negative effects at this time or have been admitted to the hospital.”
Oregon said Jim Radcliffe will assume Oderinde’s role on an interim basis. Additionally, it said the head football strength and conditioning coach will no longer report to the head football coach but instead to Andrew Murray, director of performance and sports science.
Oregon said all workouts moving forward have been modified.