The death of Kent State football player Tyler Heintz on June 13th was tragic, made even more heartbreaking by the fact that the Golden Flashes were reportedly in violation of a NCAA Bylaw when it happened.
Heintz, a freshman, died after a team workout due to complications from a condition called hyperthermia. In layman’s terms, his body basically overheated.
That’s tragic enough as it is, especially considering the awareness the game of football has gained regarding heat and its impacts during practice and or conditioning. According to reports, Heintz collapsed during the second day of Kent State’s freshman conditioning. The session was outside and it was supervised. Per NCAA rules, the actual football coaches weren’t in attendance, but the strength and conditioning personnel were there.
And that’s where this story takes an even worse turn, which didn’t seem possible at first.
Dennis Dodd of CBS Sports is reporting that Kent State is unable to produce the professional certification for the strength and conditioning coach who oversaw the drills that may have lead to Heintz’s death. That coach, Ross Bowsher, is the only member of the strength and conditioning staff who doesn’t have the NCAA required certification.
Here’s an excerpt from Dodd’s report (H/T Saturday Down South):
“If Bowsher is not certified, that would be a violation of NCAA Bylaw 11.1.5, which states that strength coaches “must maintain current certification through a nationally accredited strength and conditioning certification program.”
A Kent State spokesman told CBS Sports “there were no responsive records” to a Freedom of Information Act request for copies of the strength and conditioning staff’s certification.”
The official cause of Heintz’s death is undetermined and it will take time to figure out, but CBS is reporting that the preliminary cause of death uncovered by the local coroner was indeed hyperthermia. And while Bowsher may have been qualified from a resume standpoint to do his job the day Heintz died, the fact that he may not have been certified at the time of the incident certainly doesn’t look good for Kent State.
In fact, it looks darn near negligent.
Dodd passed on a quote representing Kent State athletic director Joel Nielsen, which was given to CBS Sports via a university spokesman:
“We continue to mourn the loss of Tyler Heintz, and the Kent State family is focused on joining with the Heintz family in honoring the memory of Tyler in our thoughts and actions.
“Kent State University continues to assess and review all policies and practices relative to the circumstances surrounding Tyler’s death. It is premature to report the totality of our findings, but we remain steadfast in the due diligence of our review and our commitment to the safety and well-being of all student-athletes at Kent State University.”
Through the freedom of information act, Dodd and CBS were able to obtain the workout plans from the day of Heintz’s death, as well as the day before, and nothing seemed out of the ordinary. In fact, the temperature was only 81 degrees with Heintz collapsed.
Still, the fact that the person overseeing the workouts may not have been certified is a huge problem for Kent State. In fact, if a certification can’t be produced, the University may end up looking at a huge lawsuit.