BY TOM WITOSKY AND RANDY PETERSON | REGISTER STAFF WRITERS
A national recruiting expert today cautioned recruits from over-reacting to Tuesday’s report that 12 Iowa football players were hospitalized after workouts.
And Austin Blythe, an offensive lineman and defensive tackle from Williamsburg, said today he doesn’t have any second thoughts about playing for Iowa.
“No, not at all,” Blythe said. “Coach Doyle knows what he’s doing, along with all the other coaches. I’m sure whatever went wrong, they’ll fix it and it’ll be good to go.”
Two members of the University of Iowa football team indicated they underwent exceptionally strenuous workouts days before they and 10 teammates were hospitalized.
Allen Wallace, national recruiting editor for Scouts.com, said “it won’t have any affect on recruiting.
“If there was a pattern of something like that happening over time, then maybe, but this isn’t.
“It’s the kind of thing fans of the Hawkeyes don’t like to hear, nobody would, but whatever happened should be easily addressable.”
Meanwhile, the university has scheduled a press conference for 3:30 p.m. today in Iowa City. The press release says a member of the Iowa football staff and a doctor from University Hospitals will be present. Follow coverage in a live blog on Hawk Central.
Iowa’s sports information department confirmed that a dozen Hawkeyes had been hospitalized Monday and they were “responding well to treatment” Tuesday.
Officials at Iowa later indicated all of the players were out of immediate medical danger, but confirmed the need for treatment was “likely related” to off-season drills.
Around 20 high school seniors are expected to sign national letters of intent with Iowa next Wednesday.
“I would be very surprised if kids who have been planning for months to go to Iowa would back off their commitment,” Wallace said. “What happened doesn’t demonstrate any kind of wrongful pattern.
“The strength and conditioning people — if there are things that need to be corrected, then I’m sure they will get it corrected.”
Blythe said he heard of the players being hospitalized on the news. Charles Coe, the grandfather of Edwardsville, Ill., running back Rodney Coe, said he did not all the details, but thought his son would still honor his commitment to the Hawkeyes.
Charles Coe is a high school coach, who said the events of this week did not make him overly concerned.
“I’ve been doing it for 37 years, and no it really doesn’t,” Coe said. “Without talking to the trainers and talking with Kirk, I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to comment on it.”
Jeff Fleener, an assistant coach at Allen (Texas) High School, said linebacker Melvin Spears is still excited about joining the Hawkeyes.
Alan DiBona, the father of freshman linebacker Shane DiBona of Duxbury, Mass., told The Des Moines Register that his son was one of those hospitalized.
DiBona politely declined to answer additional questions about his son because the two had not had an opportunity to discuss the situation in greater detail.
On Jan. 20, however, Shane DiBona talked about a staggering workout on Facebook: “I had to squat 240 pounds 100 times and it was timed. I can’t walk and I fell down the stairs … lifes (sic) great.”
Alan DiBona said Shane seemed well.
“We’ve talked to him — and he’s doing great,” Alan DiBona said.
Also on Jan. 20, the Facebook page for former Des Moines Lincoln star Jordan Bernstine, an Iowa defensive back, reported: “Hands Down the hardest workout I’ve ever had in my life! I can’t move!”
Bernstine, reached by the Iowa City Press-Citizen, also confirmed he was treated at the hospital — but said he’s OK now.
Freshman tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz responded to the Register via text message about player symptoms.
“I guess there (sic) urine was brown and they were all dizzy,” the text read.
NCAA rules allow off-season conditioning workouts to begin this month, according to Fred Mims, Iowa’s associate athletic director for student services and compliance. Mims said athletes can participate in supervised, two-hour workouts daily — up to eight hours per week.
Chris Doyle, Iowa’s strength and conditioning coach, could not be reached for comment.
Gary Barta, Iowa athletic director, said football coach Kirk Ferentz remained out of town on a recruiting trip, but was aware that players had been hospitalized.
“Our No. 1 concern is the safety of our student-athletes,” Barta said in a news release, “so we are pleased with the positive feedback.
“Our next step is to find out what happened so we can avoid this happening in the future.”
Mims said players contacted his office with questions about potential missed class time and indicated it is his office’s understanding that treatment was needed “from their training, their weightlifting.”
DiBona outlined a difficult weight-related workout on his Facebook page. Freshman linebacker Jim Poggi, posted a status update on his page, though it was removed later Tuesday.
Iowa offensive lineman Julian Vandervelde told the Associated Press that Iowa coaches are concerned about the safety and well-being of players.
“They are nothing if not concerned for the health of the players,” Vandervelde said. “That’s always the first priority, health and development. I mean workouts are never used to punish.
“It’s always about improvement, and workouts are always well within the capabilities of the athletes asked to perform them.”
Tom Moore, a university spokesman, said university officials were still attempting to ascertain the exact cause of the problem.
“The cause is not completely clear,” Moore said, “but the faculty and staff are doing an excellent job taking care of these student-athletes. We are still working on why this happened.”
Searching for answers
At about 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, the University of Iowa sports information department put out a statement confirming a dozen players had been hospitalized Monday and they were “responding well to treatment” on Tuesday.
The five-paragraph statement raised questions, however, about the reason for treating the players — and failed to provide any other details.
The statement indicated Iowa would not comment further “at this time.”
Iowa spokesperson Tom Moore, reached later by the Register, said “there is no indication that a wider health threat to the public at large exists.”
At about 6:45 p.m., Iowa’s sports information department released another statement with the subject line “UI Clarification” that stated: “The Hawkeye football players admitted to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics were all participating in NCAA allowable winter workouts. The symptoms, for which the student-athletes are being treated, are likely related to those workouts.”
The text from Fiedorowicz and a short-hand message on Poggi’s Facebook page — “in the hospital … turns out its bad news bears wen ur wizz is brown” — raised medical questions and concerns.
One possible explanation for the problem — given the acknowledgment that the problems related to off-season conditioning — is that the players could have developed myoglobinuria, a condition caused by muscle breakdown resulting from reasons that include excessive, strenuous workouts.
Myoglobinuria, according to the website eMedicine.com, occurs when muscles begin to break down and Myoglobin, a dark red protein, seeps into the urine.
Physicians are trained to respond to the condition by initiating aggressive hydration to prevent acute kidney injury.
University officials would not address medical-related questions involving the players.
The Register’s Bryce Miller and Andrew Logue and the Iowa City Press-Citizen’s Andy Hamilton contributed to this article.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football