HEAT, TX (NEXSTAR) — A Rockwall Heat High School football coach has been placed on administrative leave after parents said he forced his student athletes to do about 400 push-ups last Friday, sending many players into hospital.
In a letter to parents on Tuesday, Rockwall-Heath director Todd Bradford confirmed that coach John Harrell had been placed on administrative leave following the incident, which occurred during the eighth sporting session. Bradford said several students “need medical attention and, in some cases, hospitalization.”
He also confirmed that a third party was investigating the incident.
“In order to thoroughly investigate any link between classroom activities and student illnesses, the district is engaging an independent third party to investigate this event,” the letter said. “The District is also taking temporary measures, including but not limited to placing Coach Harrell on administrative leave while the investigation is ongoing and notifying appropriate third party agencies.”
The district also promised to provide support to the students involved.
One parent, who asked not to be named, told the Dallas Morning News that her son was hospitalized with a diagnosis of rhabdomyolysis due to intense training. The mother said that her son was forced to do 300 to 400 push-ups without a break in the water, which led to his hospitalization.
Rhabdomyolysis is a complex disease that can damage the heart and kidneys and, in some cases, lead to permanent disability and even death.
Two more of Heath’s parents told the newspaper that the students did more than 350 push-ups, with one parent saying the students had to complete the workout within 60 minutes.
Other Rockwall parents told the Morning News that at least eight students were hospitalized based on conversations they had with other parents.