Three football players were hospitalized and several others were left slightly the worse-for-wear following an intensive, post-break strength and conditioning workout at the University of Oregon.
Tight end Cam McCormick and offensive linemen Doug Brenner and Sam Poutasi were hospitalized late last week and remained at Peace Health Sacred Heart Medical Center through the weekend.
Poutasi’s mother shared with The Oregonian that her son had been diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, a syndrome wherein soft muscle tissue can be broken down and enter the bloodstream, causing potential liver damage in severe cases.
One known cause of rhabdomyolysis is a sudden and drastic increase in demands on the body, such as participating in an intense workout without gradual preparation.
More on rhabdomyolysis: Overly Aggressive Workouts Put Athletes at Risk of Rhabdomyolysis
After a month-long winter break during which the Oregon Ducks, who did not qualify for a postseason bowl game, abstained from holding mandatory team practices, several players complained of discolored urine, which can be an indicator of rhabdomyolysis. Other players tested were found to have high levels of creatine kinase, another indicator.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the University of Oregon said, “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.”
Modifications likely include a more gradual return to practice after long breaks, in accordance with the NCAA medical handbook, which lists “novel workouts or exercises immediately following a transitional period” as one of 10 risk factors that can lead to rhabdomyolysis.
Update: On Tuesday, Oregon football strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde was suspended by the university for one month without pay due to his part in the hospitalization of three players following the post-break workout, according to The Washington Post.
In a university-issued report, Oregon head coach Willie Taggart apologized for the incident, saying, "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."
The University of Oregon has also announced that Oderinde will no longer be under the direct supervision of head coach Taggart, but instead will be required to report to the school's director of performance and sports science.