IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — When Iowa opens the season Saturday, three of the 13 players who were hospitalized after a now-scrapped weightlifting exercise in January won’t be on the team. One walk-on player and two who were on scholarship quit the team following their hospitalization with rhabdomyolysis, a muscle disorder that caused discolored urine and extreme soreness, according to a report released this week by a committee appointed by President Sally Mason to investigate the injuries.
The walk-on quit before spring practice to concentrate on academics. One of the scholarship players left the team before spring practice, considered transferring and then stayed at Iowa but decided not to play football. The other completed spring practice but left the university for what the report described as unrelated personal reasons. The report, e-mailed to the Iowa Board of Regents and posted online Tuesday, does not identify any of the players. The second player is believed to be reserve senior cornerback Willie Lowe, who had asked for a release from his scholarship last spring to consider transferring but later decided to remain enrolled at Iowa but not rejoin the team.
The committee concluded that all 13 players appear to have completely recovered and it’s considered possible but unlikely they will develop any long-term health problems. It also noted the athletics department has reaffirmed its commitment to never again use the workout that caused the injuries and taken steps to educate employees, athletes and others about how to prevent and identify rhabdomyolysis. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz has downplayed the potential impact of the offseason workouts on the Hawkeyes, saying he’s been pleased with his players’ recovery and that he and his staff members were cleared of any misconduct in the matter. Iowa hosts Tennessee Tech at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday.
The regents had asked the committee for a follow-up report in six months after its initial findings earlier this year. Board of Regents President Craig Lang praised the university’s multi-layered response in a letter to regents dated Tuesday. “I thank the university for its ongoing careful attention in responding to the individual needs of each player,” he said. He added he was “very pleased” the university halted the workout in question and added: “I commend the University for its commitment to improved education, communication, and medical practices for increased awareness of rhabdomyolysis and other serious health issues that could impact our student-athletes.”