A Texas high school football coach was suspended after a grueling workout left several players hospitalized.
According to the Dallas Morning News, the incident took place at Rockwall-Heath High School on Friday during an eighth-period athletic class. Parents say head football coach John Harrell required the teens to complete multiple sets of push-ups during a 60-minute timeframe with little to no rest in between each set.
One mother claimed her son, who was allegedly forced to do 300 to 400 push-ups with no water breaks, had to be hospitalized after the workout and was diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis—a potentially fatal condition that can cause kidney damage or failure. He was among eight students who had to seek medical attention.
In a letter sent to parents on Tuesday, Rockwall-Heath principal Todd Bradford confirmed Harrell, who has worked at the school since 2019, was placed on administrative leave. Bradford also announced the district hired an independent third party to investigate the matter.
“Please know the district immediately implemented measures to address the situation and provide support for our students,” the letter reads in part. “To thoroughly investigate any connection between the activities in class and student illnesses, the district is retaining an independent third party to investigate the event. The district is also taking interim action, including but not limited to, placing Coach Harrell on administrative leave while the investigation is pending and notifying appropriate outside agencies. District administrators and campus personnel have been in contact with the affected families and student-athletes.”
Defending Harrell, one player said he believed the coach was simply using the extreme workout to instill discipline.
“I’m praying for all the dudes that are in the hospital. They’re my brothers,” Brady Luff, a junior captain on the team, told Fox 4. He added that water was available and anyone was free to stop. “He’s treated us with nothing but respect and he loves every single one of us like his own.”