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Mason, regents order probe; Branstad advises full explanation

[ 38 ] January 27, 2011 |

An investigation into what caused 13 members of the Iowa football team to be hospitalized this week is underway, the presidents of the University of Iowa and the State Board of Regents announced Thursday.

“The primary aim of this analysis will be to identify, to the extent possible, the root causes of this incident in order to create and implement effective preventative measures to ensure this does not happen in the future,” Sally Mason, school president, said in a statement. “It is an essential responsibility of the University to determine what is likely to have caused this rare condition among so many young men at one time, and to share those findings.”

Officials said that the study is to be completed in 90 days and shared with the Regents.

The statement was issued the day after U of I officials disclosed that doctors believe the 13 hospitalized players have rhabdomyolisis, a dangerous disorder in which muscles begin to deteriorate possibly as a result of extreme overexertion.

The syndrome can result in severe kidney damage or failure unless treated.

Officials said that the 13 players had participated in strenuous pre-season drills last week and early this week prior to being admitted to the University of Iowa hospital.

Miles said in the statement that a root cause analysis should be conducted to make sure “it never happens again.”

He also said that university officials had agreed to consult with independent medical experts, who were included “the earliest moments.”

Branstad: It is important to find out why this happened

Meanwhile, Gov. Terry Branstad said school officials should make sure that a full and complete explanation of what happened be shared with the public.

“I think it is important to do that. People have a lot of interest in athletes and they have been a lot of situations involving athletes including the highly publicized trial recently involving student athletes,” Branstad told reporters and editors of the Des Moines Register.

Branstad said that he had not talked to Mason or Miles about the situation, but said that university officials are “concerned about the health and well-being of all students and certainly student-athletes.”

The governor, who said he was a walk-on baseball player at Iowa in early 1970’s, said that the number of athletes affected concerned him.

“This happened to 13 athletes and that is a large number of people. It wasn’t just one person,” Branstad said.

At the same time, he said that what made it curious is that other football programs use similar training routines.

“It looks like they were following a regime that is used at a lot schools,” Branstad said. ”That is why it is important to find out why this happened. It is something that needs to be fully investigated and I am sure that it will.”

Here is the press release:

The health and well-being of students at all of Iowa’s Public Universities is of paramount concern to the Iowa Board of Regents and to the University of Iowa. As such, the recent hospitalization of 13 University of Iowa football players following pre-season workouts is a cause for grave concern. Our immediate focus is the full recovery of each of the young men involved, and we continue to closely monitor the medical condition of our student-athletes. In that regard, we commend the UI Athletics Department for its quick response to the student-athletes’ health needs, and wish to express our confidence in the care that they are receiving at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

“Going forward, it is essential that we take the necessary steps to understand the factors that led to this to ensure that it never happens again,” said David Miles, president of the Iowa Board of Regents. “This morning President Sally Mason and I agreed to a 90-day timeline for completion of a root cause analysis of the events that led to the need to hospitalize these young men. At President Mason’s direction, this analysis was already underway shortly after the incident, and I appreciate the University’s efforts to involve independent medical experts in the process from the earliest moments.”

“The primary aim of this analysis will be to identify, to the extent possible, the root causes of this incident in order to create and implement effective preventative measures to ensure this does not happen in the future,” added Sally Mason, president of the University of Iowa. “It is an essential responsibility of the University to determine what is likely to have caused this rare condition among so many young men at one time, and to share those findings.”

Results of the analysis will be presented to the Board of Regents upon completion.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

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