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Bet on NCAAFIs how tough a football team is measured by how many concussions the players play through and how many of them end up in the hospital after a particularly difficult workout? For most people, the answer would be “No.” But at the University of Iowa, the answer this week was “Yes,” as more than a dozen players ended up being treated for rhabdomyolysis, a condition caused by the breakdown of muscle fibers into the bloodstream.

Five of the players that were hospitalized this week were discharged already, while the remaining 8 are expected to leave the hospital in the next few days. The University has opened an investigation into the workouts and what led to so many players ending up with this dangerous condition that can cause kidney damage.

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In the past, a few high school football and wrestling teams have experienced similar cases of rhabdomyolosis after especially grueling workouts. In many cases, players were forced to work out for excessively long periods of time in extreme heat and humidity without being allowed water breaks. After a period of time, the muscles begin to break down and the waste enters the bloodstream where it travels to the kidneys. With enough water leaving the body due to dehydration, the kidneys can not kep up.

This is the most common way that large numbers of athletes experience the syndrome, with many ending up hospitalized as a result. Drug tests for the 13 players affected at the University of Iowa all came back negative, indicating that there probably was little more to do with the story than dehydration and too-tough workouts.

In fact, the parents blame the strength and conditioning staff, which had the players perform 100 squats and push sleds. While this may not seem like too much, this was the players' first official workout since the Insight Bowl three weeks ago. With that much time off, was it any wonder that so many would be slightly deconditioned and not ready for 100 squats?

While not a grave concern for any games coming up soon for the team, some of the players have gained 30 to 50 pounds with all of the fluids that have been forced into their bodies since entering the hospital. And many of the affected players may have to take extended time off or work out at a lower capacity until they are fully recovered. The impact on the team's morale during the off-season is yet to be seen.


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