Concordia University Chicago men’s basketball coach Steve Kollar is returning to the team after an investigation determined a practice made particularly intense as a consequence for player rule breaking contributed to the hospitalization of six student-athletes.
The school had named an interim head coach last week after the players were hospitalized following the practice, which took place after players broke curfew during a California team road trip.
“The University and athletic administration has full confidence in Coach Kollar and believes that he has the best interests of our student-athletes in mind,” Concordia-Chicago athletic director Pete Gnan wrote in a letter to players, parents and staff Thursday.
The six student-athletes had been hospitalized with rhabdomyolysis, said the letter the school shared with the Tribune. The serious condition involves muscle fibers breaking down and leaking throughout the body and can be caused by physical exertion.
[ Concordia University Chicago basketball players hospitalized after intense practice ]
The school’s investigation determined the intense practice contributed to the hospitalizations in combination with other factors, including “an extended break, cross-country travel, rest, hydration and nutrition.” But coaches had no intent to harm or haze the student-athletes, the statement added.
“Overall, Coach Kollar continues to have the overall support of his team and their parents, many of whom have voluntarily provided affirmation of their support during our recent inquiry,” Gnan wrote.
Kollar has never faced any formal complaint while at Concordia-Chicago since or prior to the hospitalizations, Gnan added. He returns to the team Friday.
All six student-athletes have been released from the hospital and progressing toward full recoveries. They will be gradually allowed to practice and play in games again after being medically cleared, the letter said. The school is also implementing new safety trainings and evaluations for coaches alongside protocol for re-acclimating student-athletes in the preseason and after extended breaks, it continued.
The team postponed four games that will likely count as forfeits “out of a further abundance of caution,” including an away contest Saturday against Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference rival Marian University. But the squad could return to competition next Tuesday to play Rockford University, Gnan wrote.
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.
The NCAA Division III Cougars had gotten off to the team’s best start in over 40 years this season with an 8-0 record before losing both games on its California road trip.