Concordia University Chicago has reinstated Steve Kollar as head coach of the men’s basketball team. Kollar had been temporarily removed from the position after a particularly intense Dec. 31 practice caused six players to be hospitalized, but an internal investigation has found no evidence of hazing or intent to harm the student-athletes.
“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,” wrote Concordia athletics director Peter Gnan in a letter to parents, students, coaches and training staff.
Kollar resumed his off-court, administrative duties Jan. 13. Assistant coach Rashaan Surles, who took over head coaching duties in Kollar’s absence, will continue to oversee team practices and games in the near term, according to the letter.
“We look forward to Coach Kollar’s return in the weeks ahead,” Gnan wrote.
Gnan’s letter confirmed that the intensity of the New Year’s Eve practice was a direct consequence of some players breaking curfew during a late December trip to California, where the team played two games.
“We believe the intensity of the practice contributed to the students’ illness when combined with other factors including, but not limited to, an immediate return to full activity after an extended break, cross-country travel, rest, hydration and nutrition,” Gnan wrote.
During the week of Jan. 2, six players were admitted to local Illinois hospitals with rhabdomyolysis, a potentially life-threatening syndrome that can be caused by serious physical exertion.
Rhabdomyolysis occurs when damaged muscle tissue releases proteins and electrolytes into the blood, which can hurt the heart and kidneys, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The condition can cause permanent disability and death.
The six players have since been released from care. The university is continuing to assess the health of the student-athletes. The team doctor is working alongside professionals at Loyola University Medical Center to create care plans for the players. Once it has been determined that they are fit to resume physical activity, the players will make a “gradual return” over two weeks.
The university anticipates the team will could return to playing games by Jan. 17. The men’s basketball team did not play in three regularly scheduled games over the past two weeks due to the incident, nor will they play in a Jan. 14 game against Marian University. Those games will be considered forfeits.
The university declined to disclose additional details regarding Kollar’s absence, citing the situation as a private employment matter. It was stated in the letter, however, that no formal complaints had been lodged against Kollar prior to or in relation to the six players being hospitalized.
“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’s letter states.