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IOWA CITY, Iowa – A former University of Iowa football player has sued the state, alleging UI coaches and trainers were negligent in allowing a 2011 workout that caused 13 players to be hospitalized for exertional rhabdomyolysis.
William Lowe, 25, of Cleveland, Ohio, filed a lawsuit against the state Monday in Johnson County District Court. He was among 13 UI football players hospitalized for the potentially-fatal muscle breakdown after an extreme squat workout Jan. 20, 2011.
Lowe, known as Willie when he played for the Hawkeyes, says in the suit he and other student-athletes reported substantial leg pain and stiffness as well as abnormally-dark urine following the Jan. 20 workout.
Players were required to participate in workouts Jan. 21 and 24, even though they were still in extreme pain, Lowe claims. He was admitted to the hospital Jan. 24 and diagnosed with rhabdo.
"Defendant knew or should have known that the subject team sanctioned workouts carried with them an unreasonable and unnecessary risk of significant bodily harm, including rhabdomyolysis," the suit states.
Lowe, who was a senior in 2011, asked Iowa to be released from his scholarship soon after the incident. He experienced sudden weight loss, continued pain in his lower back and body, headaches and high blood pressure over the next several months, the suit states.
Lowe is seeking financial compensation for continued mental and physical pain, loss of earning capacity, loss of enjoyment of life and potential future medical expenses.
Exertional rhabdomyolysis causes release of muscle elements into the bloodstream. Complications of the ailment can include kidney failure, cardiac arrhythmia and even death.
A UI investigation of the rhabdo incident concluded coaches didn't know the disease was a risk when they scheduled the intense workout, which included 100 back squats at 50 percent of each athlete's one-repetition max. The workout had been used in previous years, but never after a three-week break.
The investigation also found the players did nothing and ingested nothing that caused the condition.
The squat workout has been discontinued.