Kent State fires strength coach following death of freshman lineman

Dr. Saturday
(Photo by David Dermer/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Dermer/Diamond Images/Getty Images)

The strength and conditioning coach that led workouts the day Kent State freshman Tyler Heintz died has been fired.

CBS Sports reported last week that Ross Bowsher, KSU’s head football strength and conditioning coach, did not have the proper certification for the position he held with the school. After the school investigated the matter further, it was determined that Bowsher lied on his resume about his university and NCAA-required certification.

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Bowsher was entering his second year at Kent State. Because he worked without proper certification, an NCAA violation, Kent State said in a statement it will self-report the violation. Despite the revelation about Bowsher, the school said the workout was “conducted in accordance with national protocols for student-athlete health and safety” because it was “supervised appropriately” by five coaches who are properly certified. CBS reported that four of Bowsher’s “subordinates were listed as members” of the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association, but Bowsher was not.

Bowsher was supervising the team’s conditioning workout on June 13, when Heintz died following just the second workout of the summer for the Golden Flashes. Heintz, a 19-year-old true freshman, enrolled at the university earlier in the summer after signing with the program in its 2017 recruiting class.

Here is Kent State’s entire statement in response to the CBS Sports report:

“The safety and well-being of our student-athletes is paramount at Kent State University, and we have continued to assess and review all policies and circumstances relative to the June 13 summer football workout that occurred prior to the death of Tyler Heintz. We continue to mourn the loss of Tyler, and the Kent State family is focused on joining with the Heintz family in honoring his memory in our thoughts and actions.

“The university has concluded its internal review of the matter, and our findings indicate that the workout was conducted in accordance with national protocols for student-athlete health and safety, and the session was supervised appropriately by qualified personnel. Present at the June 13 football workout were five certified personnel who participated in the design, implementation and supervision of the 20 student-athletes.

“During the course of the review, it was discovered that football strength and conditioning coach Ross Bowsher provided false information about his certification, which is required by the university and the NCAA. Mr. Bowsher has been dismissed from the university, and we are self-reporting this decision to the NCAA.”

Bowsher coached at Arkansas Tech, Purdue and Butler before landing at Kent State. At Purdue, Bowsher “oversaw the sports performance programs of baseball and track and field, while assisting with football” as “coordinator of strength and conditioning for offensive and defensive linemen,” Kent State said in its release upon his hire. Kent State said Bowsher “completed a certification program at IUPUI.”

IUPUI told CBS the program it offers is “not a national certification.”

An IUPUI official told CBS Sports the school offers a personal trainer certificate program that prepares students to take national strength and conditioning certification tests, including that from the NSCA. To be clear, that IUPUI class is not national certification. In fact, the NCAA requires any certification must be accredited by the National Commission For Certifying Agencies.

CBS Sports attempted to verify Bowsher’s degree and the certification class prior to publishing our investigation on Aug 8. IUPUI said it could not comply due to privacy laws. Bowsher did not respond to a request for comment.

A few days after Heintz’s death, the Portage County Coroner determined the likely cause of death to be hyperthermia, which occurs when the body cannot cool itself “after exposure to extreme heat.” An official cause of death could be released later this summer.

Heintz, a 6-foot-4, 270-pound offensive lineman, was a native of Kenton, Ohio.

He is the second Kent State player to die in recent years. Center Jason Bitsko was found dead in his bedroom in August 2014. Bitsko, 21, died from an enlarged heart.

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Sam Cooper is a writer for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

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