Dallas high school football coach on administrative leave after forcing players to do nearly 400 push-ups

At least eight students were hospitalized, according to parents of some of the student-athletes

Generic image of a football field. (Pixabay)

DALLAS, Texas – A high school head football coach in Dallas is on administrative leave after forcing student-athletes to do an extreme workout that sent many to the hospital, according to a report from The Dallas Morning News.

John Harrell, a head coach at Rockwall-Heath High School, will remain on leave while a “third party investigates,” DMN reported Tuesday. It’s unknown if he’ll receive pay during this time.

Some parents of the student-athletes claim the players were forced to do between 300-400 push-ups on Friday with no water breaks, in an hour timeframe. Parents also claim at least eight students were hospitalized due to the intense workout.

A letter sent Tuesday by Rockwall-Heath Principal Todd Bradford confirmed that several of the players “needed medical attention” and some of them required hospitalization, according to DMN.

The letter also urged students to see the campus athletic trainer if they experienced the following symptoms after the workout: unable to bend or extend arms, unable to lift arms above head, dark urine and sharp arm pain.

“Please know the district immediately implemented measures to address the situation and provide support for our students,” the letter said, according to The DMN. “To thoroughly investigate any connection between the activities in class and student illnesses, the district is retaining an independent third party to investigate the event. The district is also taking interim action, including but not limited to, placing Coach Harrell on administrative leave while the investigation is pending and notifying appropriate outside agencies. District administrators and campus personnel have been in contact with the affected families and student-athletes.”

Harrell previously worked as an assistant head coach before he was promoted in January 2022.

He has worked at Rockwall-Heath since 2019 and his team made it to a regional final in 2020 and regional semifinals in 2021, according to DMN.

At last check, Rockwall ISD and Harrell haven’t commented on the incident.

About the Author:

Cody King is a digital journalist for KSAT 12. She previously worked for WICS/WRSP 20 in Springfield, Illinois.