UI: All 13 players released for UIHC (Ferentz, Barta statements)

Marc Morehouse
Published: January 30 2011 | 4:47 pm - Updated: 31 March 2014 | 10:43 am in
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IOWA CITY -- After nearly a week, all 13 University of Iowa football players who had been hospitalized with symptoms of rhabdomyolysis, a muscular syndrome, have been released from University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

The news was announced in a Sunday night release that also included statements from head football coach Kirk Ferentz and UI athletics director Gary Barta.

Their statements were the strongest yet since the UI revealed last Tuesday that the players were in the hospital because of a workout-related illness.

"Getting all 13 student-athletes healthy and out of the hospital has been priority number one all along, so I'm very happy that they all are now back home and resuming their lives," Ferentz said.

"These young men and their families have been through a difficult and trying time. They are under my supervision and watch, and I am truly sorry for what they've experienced. They trained extremely hard and ended up in the hospital, and there is no indication they did anything wrong. So, I'm pleased they are progressing well and I look forward to seeing all of them being back to normal."

Five players have been identified -- senior defensive backs Jordan Bernstine, Willie Lowe and Tom Donatell, sophomore linebacker Shane DiBona and freshman linebacker Jim Poggi.

Iowa players began their on winter workouts on Jan. 20 with a workload that included a timed 100 squats drill with a certain percentage of maximum weight and then 20-yard sled pushes. The next day was an upper body workout. After a weekend off, workouts continued Monday with, according to Biff Poggi, Jim's dad, some leaping drills.

The UI released last Tuesday that 12 players were in the UIHC. The Gazette reported that night that players showed symptoms of rhabdomyolysis, a muscle injury syndrome that stresses the kidneys. The UI acknowledged that during a news conference last Wednesday.

In a joint release last Thursday, the Iowa Board of Regents and UI president Sally Mason announced that a 90-day investigation had already been launched on what landed the 13 players in the hospital.

In a Friday statements, the UI said five players were released Friday. According to Sunday's release, six more were discharged on Saturday with the final two released Sunday.

The rhabdomyolysis outbreak and the silence of Ferentz and Barta drew a barrage of criticism from national media outlets this week, including ESPN.com and CBSSports.com. Ferentz was accused of not caring about his players. Iowa had its accountability challenged.

Sunday's statement from Ferentz and Barta included a bit of a rebuke.

"Now that these students are out of the hospital and on the road to recovery, we can devote our full attention to determining what happened, and making sure it does not happen again," Ferentz said. "There has been a lot of speculation by those who don't have the facts and it is unfair and inappropriate for anyone to make wild guesses about what happened."

Last Wednesday's news conference included director of football operations Paul Federici, Dr. John Stokes, an internist at UIHC who wasn't directly involved with the athletes, and Biff Poggi, who gave a parent's perspective.

What Ferentz and Barta were told about the illnesses is unknown. Barta was in Florida for a UI fundraiser. Ferentz was on a recruiting trip through Ohio. The logistics of their travel are unknown. Federici said Ferentz would be back in town Wednesday night. Barta was back Thursday.

"We obviously are extremely pleased all of our student-athletes have been released from the hospital and can begin the return to their academic, athletic, and personal lives," Barta said."We now can focus exclusively on discovering the root cause of this situation, and I'm anxious to work with President Mason's group to this end.

"We will review every aspect of the workouts and talk with everyone involved. The staff and coaches who work with these young men are highly respected professionals who are dedicated and care deeply about our student-athletes. I hope those who follow our program will respect this process moving forward and refrain from any further unproductive rush to judgment."

ALL 13 UNIVERSITY OF IOWA STUDENT-ATHLETES RELEASED FROM HOSPITAL

IOWA CITY, Iowa All 13 of the University of Iowa football players who had been hospitalized with symptoms of rhabdomyolysis, a muscular syndrome, have been released from University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

"Getting all 13 student-athletes healthy and out of the hospital has been priority number one all along, so I'm very happy that they all are now back home and resuming their lives," said Kirk Ferentz, the UIs head football coach.

"These young men and their families have been through a difficult and trying time. They are under my supervision and watch, and I am truly sorry for what they've experienced. They trained extremely hard and ended up in the hospital, and there is no indication they did anything wrong. So I'm pleased they are progressing well and I look forward to seeing all of them being back to normal."

The University's athletics department earlier had confirmed the release of five student-athletes Friday. Six more were discharged on Saturday, and the final two were sent home on Sunday.

"Now that these students are out of the hospital and on the road to recovery, we can devote our full attention to determining what happened, and making sure it does not happen again," said Ferentz. "There has been a lot of speculation by those who don't have the facts and it is unfair and inappropriate for anyone to make wild guesses about what happened."

"We obviously are extremely pleased all of our student-athletes have been released from the hospital and can begin the return to their academic, athletic, and personal lives," said Gary Barta, the UIs director of athletics.

"We now can focus exclusively on discovering the root cause of this situation, and I'm anxious to work with President Mason's group to this end. We will review every aspect of the workouts and talk with everyone involved. The staff and coaches who work with these young men are highly respected professionals who are dedicated and care deeply about our student-athletes. I hope those who follow our program will respect this process moving forward and refrain from any further unproductive rush to judgment."

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