Child Protective Services is now investigating the Texas high school football coach whose alleged pushup punishment of players resulted in student hospitalizations, according to local reports.
The parents of two players confirmed the agency in charge of minor welfare is now investigating Rockwall-Heath Head Football Coach John Harrell, who is said to have forced the team to perform up to 400 pushups in less than an hour.
Harrell is on leave while the school investigates the Jan. 6 incident which left at least eight hospitalized according to Fox 4 Dallas.
Two players spent several days in the hospital with symptoms including dark urine and an inability to lift their arms.
“When my son said his wrist was hurting, one of the coaches said to him, ‘Your wrist should be healed by now, keep going,’” Dr. Osehotue Okojie, the parent of a sophomore football player told the Dallas television station.
“He didn’t tell me this until recently because he didn’t want me to be upset.”
Some of the athletes were diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, a breakdown in muscle tissue which releases a damaging protein into the bloodstream, which can cause kidney damage or failure in extreme cases.
Harrell has been the head football coach of the Hawks at the elite public school in the Dallas suburb of Heath for a year, and has been with the football program since 2019.
The embattled educator visited the players in the hospital, according to team captain Brady Luff, who came to Harrell’s defense.
“Our motto, it’s the number 16,” the junior explained. “Sixteen ball games to win a championship. We do these workouts and it’s all about discipline. If we get them right, we move on. If not, we do 16 push-ups.”
Luff added the workout was no different than others the team had done in the past.
“He would never make us do a workout thinking it was gonna put any of us at risk,” Luff said.