Concordia University Chicago basketball players hospitalized after intense practice

CHICAGO — Concordia University Chicago’s basketball coach has been temporarily removed after five players were hospitalized this week following a practice some allege was punishment for curfew violations.

The players were hospitalized after practices that followed two games in California, according to a letter sent Thursday from the River Forest college’s athletic director, Pete Gnan, to the team’s student-athletes and parents.

“Amid the already stressful and exhausting week, Saturday’s practice represented a particularly high-intensity, collegiate-level circuit training,” Gnan wrote. Athletic staff members were present then and at another practice Sunday, he added.

The NCAA Division III Cougars’ Tuesday night game against Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference rival Lakeland College was canceled and players were given Wednesday off, according to Gnan. The team also postponed a Saturday home game against Concordia University Wisconsin.

One of the five student-athletes remains hospitalized, according to Gnan. An investigation found several players had broken a curfew during the team’s road trip before the practice.

“It has been alleged by some that the intensity and difficulty of Saturday’s practice was a direct consequence of the broken curfew,” Gnan said. University officials have not yet determined whether or not the intensity of the practice was related to the violation, he added.

A person familiar with the situation said players were asked to go to the emergency room if they were experiencing symptoms related to rhabdomyolysis. The condition, in which broken-down muscle fibers leak throughout the body, can be caused by physical exertion and become life-threatening, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The school declined to share the names of the affected student-athletes, but said it had made assistant coach Rashaan Surles the acting head coach.

“Our athletics program has zero tolerance for harassment or retaliatory actions of any kind, and reporting mechanisms are in place for students, coaches and related staff,” Gnan said.

Concordia Chicago’s head coach, Steve Kollar, was named NACC coach of the year last year after leading his team to a 15-10 record in his third season. The team tied for the conference’s regular season title.

Kollar did not immediately respond to a call and email requesting comment.

The Cougars had gotten off to an 8-0 season start before losing both games on their California road trip. The team is set to play against Dominican University at home next Tuesday night.