12 football players hospitalized with exertional condition

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Twelve University of Iowa football players are recovering after being admitted to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics on Monday evening with exertional rhabdomyolysis, the Gazette learned Tuesday evening.

This condition is an acute breakdown of muscle fibers resulting in the release of muscle fiber contents (myoglobin) into the bloodstream. In serious cases, it could affect the kidney's ability to clear the toxins and has potential for permanent kidney failure.

All Iowa players admitted are doing fine, according to a source close to the situation. University of Iowa sports information also had a release Tuesday that stated the players were "safe and stable condition."

The exact details of the workout that might have led to this are unclear. Iowa players did recently participate in lower-body drills that included a series of 100 squats followed by sled work.

It's a drill the Iowa program has used in the past, according to sources. It's a fast-paced workout that a former player described as the "worst experience in your life."

NCAA rules allow winter workouts for football and they are industry standard.

At around 6:45 Tuesday evening, UI sports information sent this, "The Hawkeye football players admitted to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics were all participating in NCAA allowable winter workouts. The symptoms, for which the student-athletes are being treated, are likely related to those workouts."

A UI official cited HIPPA privacy rules when asked Tuesday night about the identities of the hospitalized athletes.

"We're at the point now where HIPPA laws don't allow us to go any further," UI associate athletics director Rick Klatt told The Gazette. "We can't identify student-athletes. We really can't get into much more specifics about what their illness is. They are protected by those privacy laws."

UI sports information sent a release Tuesday afternoon that stated a UI staff physician and football team physician said the student-athletes were responding well to treatment.

“The student-athletes were admitted throughout the course of Monday evening,” the UIHC staff physician said in the statement. “All of the individuals are responding well to treatment as of Tuesday morning. All are in safe and stable condition. At this time we are not sure when any of the individuals will be discharged. Hospital discharge will be on a case by case basis.”

Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz is out on the road recruiting. Iowa is in the final stages of recruiting for the 2011 class. The Hawkeyes have 20 commitments. The national signing period begins Feb. 2.

Iowa athletics director Gary Barta said Ferentz "is aware of the situation and is being kept abreast of the progress being made."

“Our No. 1 concern is the safety of our student-athletes, so we are pleased with the positive feedback," Barta said in the release. "Our next step is to find out what happened so we can avoid this happening in the future.”

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