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Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Notes from Iowa news conference

By Adam Rittenberg

Iowa held a news conference earlier Wednesday afternoon where we got a few smidgens of information about the Hawkeyes football players who remain hospitalized. The number of hospitalized players has increased to 13, and it's now confirmed they are recovering from rhabdomyolysis, a muscle syndrome that can be caused by excessive exercise and can, in serious cases, cause kidney damage.

Iowa director of football operations Paul Federici addressed the media along with Dr. John Stokes, a kidney specialist at University Hospitals. Biff Poggi, whose son Jim, an Iowa freshman linebacker, is one of the hospitalized players, also appeared at the news conference and provided by far the most information about what has taken place during the last six days.

Some notes:
Clearly, there are many more questions that remain. This certainly wasn't Iowa's finest hour from a p.r. standpoint, and if not for Poggi's presence, the news conference would have been pointless. The big question among many folks is why Ferentz and athletic director Gary Barta weren't present Wednesday? Schools typically want to get their most recognizable figures in front of the media.

I get that, but my bigger issue is why none of the strength coaches appeared Wednesday. They were present at these workouts and they could have shed more light on what actually happened, the workout regimens, what they ask from the players, whether there is any precedent for these medical problems, etc.

Thirteen players in the hospital is a big deal, and Iowa needs to treat it that way in its dealings with the media and the public.

Stay tuned for more as the story develops.

“This is an ambitious and a pretty strenuous period of time we’re entering. … It is strenuous, it’s ambitious, the student athletes know that. … It has been part of our workout at this time of the year in the past. This is just an anomaly. We haven’t seen this type of response.”