Lowe files lawsuit against State of Iowa

Former Iowa defensive back claims continued mental, physical pain

Published: March 11 2014 | 9:44 am - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 9:27 am in

Former University of Iowa football player William Lowe has filed a lawsuit against the state stemming from an offseason workout in January 2011 that hospitalized 13 players with rhabdomyolysis.

Lowe was one of 13 players hospitalized after a workout in 2011. He claims in a suit filed in Johnson County that the UI's negligence caused him physical and mental harm.

The players were diagnosed with exertional rhabdomyolysis in the days after a Jan. 20, 2011 offseason workout that began winter training.

“Defendant knew or should have known that the subject team sanctioned workouts carried with them an unreasonable and unnecessary risk of significant bodily harm, including rhabdomyolysis,” the suit states.

Lowe said he experienced sudden weight loss, continued pain in his lower back and body, headaches and high blood pressure over the next several months, the suit states.

Lowe is seeking financial compensation for continued mental and physical pain, loss of earning capacity, loss of enjoyment of life and potential future medical expenses.

In April 2011, prior to what would've been his senior season at Iowa, Lowe asked Iowa to be released from his scholarship and thus ended his football career. At that time, Lowe told ESPN.com he is still affected by the syndrome, still 20 pounds off his playing weight and experiencing headaches.

Also at the time, Iowa athletics director Gary Barta acknowledged Lowe's request and said Lowe wanted to remain in Iowa City, which he did.

Lowe, a native of Cleveland, Ohio, told ESPN.com: "Only a few players are back to full speed that I know of. Some said this wasn't a big deal. But this was a big deal to me."

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz and Lowe spoke by phone that April and discussed his decision. Ferentz said the door was open for a return.

"I think he needs to figure out what he wants to do and what his next move is," Ferentz said. "We're going to support him. I told him from day one, we want him to stay here and graduate from Iowa. It's up to him, entirely up to him."

A UI investigation of the rhabdo incident concluded coaches didn’t know the disease was a risk when they scheduled the intense workout, which included 100 back squats at 50 percent of each athlete’s one-repetition max. The workout had been used in previous years, but never after a three-week break.

The investigation also found the players did nothing and ingested nothing that caused the condition.

The squat workout has been discontinued.

Other players known to be stricken with rhabdo included linebacker Shane DiBona, defensive backs Shaun Prater, Jordan Bernstine, linebackers Tom Donatell and Jim Poggi and defensive tackle Tom Nardo.

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