Fresno State’s strength and conditioning, training and medical staff followed best practices and procedures before, during and after the summer conditioning workout where Fresno State offensive lineman Shane Gama suffered from heatstroke, according to an independent review commissioned by the university.
“We went into this with a completely open mind and wanting to have a thorough outside review of what happened and our policies and procedures and I think as you can see it was a good thorough report and gave us some good feedback on some things that we want to make sure we’re implementing,” Deputy Athletic Director Steve Robertello said.
“Our policies and procedures were all where they needed to be, but there were some things that we addressed moving forward.”
Our policies and procedures were all where they needed to be, but there were some things that we addressed moving forward.
Steve Robertello, Fresno State deputy director of athletics
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Bond, Schoeneck & King, a law firm based in Syracuse, N.Y., said in a 27-page report released Friday that the heat-related incident with Gama “appears to be an anomaly.”
The report included measures that it said should be considered by the athletic department going forward.
While satisfied with the report and its recommendations, Enrique Gama, the player’s father, expressed concern with athletes’ safety and the wisdom of conditioning work conducted in the heat of a summer day.
“The family is satisfied with Fresno State’s investigation and the changes that are coming,” Enrique Gama said. “They promised to make the changes to better the health and safety of the athletes that are out there playing for them.”
Fresno State declined to make Shane Gama available for an interview with The Bee. He was among the dozens of student-athletes listed in the report as having been questioned.
The approximate temperature during the July 15 workout was 102 degrees, according to the report. Relative humidity during the time of the athletics activity was less than 20 percent, the report stated, a factor in determining potentially dangerous conditions under NCAA policy on heat-illness prevention.
Recommended changes, all of which the university said would be adopted and in place this summer, included:
▪ When participating in high intensity exertion type workouts in heat above 100 degrees, the institution should have available immersion therapy “ice tubs” that can accommodate football players’ height and weight.
▪ During outdoor summer workouts, student-athletes should wear light-colored clothing with moisture wicking properties. (The Bulldogs were in black shirts and shorts).
▪ Consideration should be given to avoiding conditioning activities conducted during the “heat of the day,” noon to 3 p.m.
For any person to be out there in that weather is dangerous, let alone a 300-pound lineman. In exertion, heatstroke can happen at any time.
Enrique Gama, father of Fresno State offensive lineman Shane Gama
The report concluded: “The university’s athletic strength and conditioning program should develop a workout regime that more closely addresses the individual capacities of each student-athlete and not expect or require each of them (linemen, specialists, running backs, receivers, etc.) to achieve the same workout goals.
“Second, the university should recognize that the unique weather environment of its location, particularly during the summer months, requires a heightened level of focus on the possibility of heat related illnesses for its student-athletes.
“The university should be applauded for the efforts it has made toward preparedness and compliance with national standards for training and conditioning. But such acknowledgment should also carry with it a high burden of responsibility to not have the same situation recur. Greater safeguards should be considered, heightened focus on the daily temperatures should be a priority and a stricter level of accountability for each student-athletes nutrition and hydration should be assigned.”
Gama was stricken during a workout that started at 1 p.m. at the end of the sixth week of an eight-week program supervised by former football strength and conditioning coach Thomas Stallworth.
Gama made it through 90 percent of the workout, among the basic facts the report states “are clear and undisputed,” before showing signs of distress. He was removed from the workout, treated by athletic trainers and eventually taken by ambulance to Fresno Community Regional Medical Center.
At the hospital, Gama was placed into a medically induced coma until his core body temperature returned to normal.
Stallworth was not retained by coach Jeff Tedford, along with assistant coaches and other staff hired by former coach Tim DeRuyter.
DeRuyter was fired in October after a 1-7 start to his fifth season.
Gama, a 6-foot-4, 319-pound transfer from Southwestern College in Chula Vista rejoined the team during fall camp and by mid-September had started to do some light conditioning work on the field during practices.
He finished the season practicing with the scout team and is expected to be in spring practices in March.
“Fresno State, they’ve made some changes to their program and we’re satisfied, the family is satisfied,” Enrique Gama said. “We just want Shane to get back in and do what he started to do.”
Robert Kuwada: @rkuwada