Fertitta has ‘complete confidence’ in rhabdo investigation
Chairman of the University of Houston System Board of Regents Tilman Fertitta said on Thursday the University is committed to “a thorough understanding of the facts” in their investigation of alleged extreme workouts women’s soccer players partook in.
The statement comes after an investigation was launched by UHPD and along with a joint review by UH System Audit and UH Compliance, following an interview an anonymous women’s soccer player had with KPRC (Channel 2), where she described one February 2018 punishment workout as, “torture almost.”
“I have complete confidence in the way the University of Houston is handling the events related to the women’s soccer team,” Fertitta said in the statement. “The strength and conditioning coach was terminated immediately following the workout in January 2019.”
In the interview with KPRC, the anonymous player said she and her teammates had to do up-downs, planks and shuttle runs for almost an hour because two of the soccer players were accused of taking food intended for the football team. During the workout, the player claimed, head coach Diego Bocanegra told players to, “Get the F up.”
“I was just so mad and confused because, of course, I was going to keep going ’cause I’m scared, but I’m looking at everyone else and people were crying, barely pushing themselves off the ground,” the player told KPRC.
After the interview came out, other members of the team spoke to the Houston Chronicle and said the anonymous player’s retelling of the punishment workout was inaccurate.
“It’s frustrating because we were there and then to see that person on the news say things that are not true about a coach we love is really hard,” junior midfielder Mia Brascia said to the Houston Chronicle.
The two incidents happened in 2018 and 2019, with the first leading to one student being hospitalized with rhabdomyolysis and the second leading to 12 girls being hospitalized with the same disease.
“We have multiple ongoing investigations, including one by our Audit Department that reports directly to the Board of Regents,” Fertitta said. “In addition, UH police will report their findings directly to the Harris County District Attorney.”
The disease is rare but can cause kidney damage or death if not treated quickly. Rhabdomyolysis often happens after intense workouts and causes the muscles to release a protein called myoglobin into the blood, which can then damage the body.
While UH will be the main entity investigating if anything went wrong, UHPD will forward their finding to the Harris Country District Attorney’s office for review.
“I find it unacceptable that any workout resulted in a student’s health being compromised,” Fertitta said. “We are 100 percent committed to a thorough understanding of the facts and imposing accountability wherever necessary.”