Source: Players' return hinges on test

Updated: January 31, 2011, 8:21 PM ET
By Joe Schad | ESPN

The 13 Iowa football players who were hospitalized last week with a muscle disorder will not be allowed to return to workouts until blood tests show they have recovered adequately to resume training, a family source said.

The players were hospitalized a week ago with rhabdomyolysis, a stress-induced syndrome that can damage cells and cause kidney problems. The muscle disorder developed following a series of grueling offseason workouts.

The players will be treated as outpatients and will be asked to provide blood work every two to three days, the source said. The tests are designed to monitor how the players' kidneys are filtering muscle breakdown material and are recovering from damage caused by stressors.

All 13 players previously tested in ranges that were well outside of normal, the source said.

The players' families have met with Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz and athletic director Gary Barta, the source said. Among the questions asked at the meetings were for how long the intense workouts had been planned; whether players' access to water was restricted; and if players who missed a team-provided meal were told to run.

At least two of the players who were hospitalized had received workout awards from the team's strength staff in the past.

Among the Iowa players hospitalized was first-team All Big Ten defensive back Shaun Prater, according to a person close to the player.

Prater passed on the NFL draft to return for a senior season after posting 68 tackles and four interceptions. Tests on Prater's kidneys have provided results to close to normal, said the source, but he's been told he'll miss at least a month of workouts.

"Our focus is bringing our student-athletes back to health, and finding out what happened, through a thorough root cause analysis, to ensure it doesn't happen again," Iowa said in a statement Monday.

"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 in a school-issued statement on Sunday.

Several of the players' families have been contacted by attorneys interested in filing negligence suits, the source said.

Joe Schad is a college football reporter for ESPN. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Joe Schad

College Football

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