A high school football coach in Texas was taken off the job this week after multiple student-athletes had to be hospitalized following a strenuous off-season workout, officials said.
Rockwall-Heath High School coach John Harrell was put on paid administrative leave on Tuesday following the workout a week ago Friday that led to player hospitalizations, Rockwall Independent School District representative Renae Murphy said in a statement to NBC News on Friday.
She declined to outline the circumstances of those injuries, citing federal privacy laws.
But in a letter to football parents, school principal Todd Bradford disclosed that "student-athletes were required to perform multiple push-ups" and that "student(s) subsequently needed medical attention, and in some cases, hospitalization."
Bradford promised that the district will "thoroughly investigate any connection between the activities in class and student illnesses" and will retain "an independent third-party to investigate the event."
"Student safety is a top priority for Rockwall ISD and we will continue to take immediate and appropriate measures in the best interests of our students as we address this situation," Bradford added.
Harrell is also athletic coordinator at the school, which is about 25 miles northeast of downtown Dallas. The paid leave covers both his duties as football coach and administrative head of the high school's athletic program.
Harrell could not be immediately reached for comment on Friday.
He was named head varsity coach in January 2022 and the Hawks went 7-5 in his season at the helm.
The Hawks' final game of the season was a 52-7 loss to DeSoto High School in the 6A Division II playoffs on Nov. 17. DeSoto went on to win the title in that division.