College Football Player Dies During Workout, Strength Coach Not Certified

Employment Screening Services is a company that prides ourselves on ensuring your organization hires the right man or woman for the job. The way we go about this is by verifying and checking the background of your potential new hire, and ensuring that they are completely honest and compliant with your organization’s regulations. Education and employment verification is something we specialize in. The following story is a very tragic one.

This past June, a teenager attended his football workout. The temperature was 81 degrees. A hot day, but nothing out of the ordinary. Running the workouts that day would be Ross Bowsher, the head football sports performance coach. Tyler Heintz, 19, was enrolled in early summer classes and preparing to fulfill his long term goal of playing division 1 football at Kent State. As an incoming freshman, he had yet to even strap on the pads, as this was a summer preseason workout, to show dedication and commitment.

That morning, Tyler Heintz would collapse around 9am. He was pronounced dead shortly after.

A tragic story of a young man destined to fulfill his dreams. The cause of death was initially undetermined, but has now been determined was due to hyperthermia (inability of the body to properly cool itself). This was one of 35 college football players that have died since 2000. 29 of those deaths were related to outside preseason conditioning or offseason drills.

One of the things the NCAA has done to combat this problem is requiring all strength coaches to be certified by a sanctioning body. This was a change made in 2015, after Bowsher had been employed at Purdue and Arkansas Tech. He clearly had no intention of harming any of the players, as he was employed to strengthen and condition his players. He was entering his 2nd year as the strength coach at Kent State. 

Following Heintz’s death, both certification bodies, the National Strength Coaches Association and Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association reached out to CBS Sports to tell them that Bowsher was not certified by either association.

A teenager died during a workout with an uncertified strength coach.

So what does this have to do with background screening? Well, what we do is prevent organizations from hiring someone who is unqualified. Depending on the industry, which all have different regulations, we check and maintain that everything on their work history is verified, and ensure that any obligatory accreditations are met. This helps prevent lawsuits. Lawsuits like the one that will probably be instituted on the case of Tyler Heintz. Though the coach had been certified in “Personal Training” from IUPUI, which is a program designed to prepare students for accreditation tests, he was never formally certified.

This not only causes a bad look for the University and it’s administration, but is going to lead to a hefty lawsuit. The Conditioning Coaches Association Executive Director has this to say about the matter.

“Today, the way liability is, if you’re not certified by an accredited organization you’re walking on thin ice.” Lawsuits could be $20 million-$30 million dollars. I can’t imagine hiring someone without the appropriate credentials.”

A tragic story of a young man losing his life. An unfortunate example of how improper hiring practices and failing to ensure all regulations are verified can end up costing massive amounts of money to an organization.