CBS Sports Report: Kent State Unable to Produce Certification for Strength Coach After June Death

CBS Sports recently published a story detailing that Kent State is (as of right now) unable to produce a certification for Ross Bowsher, the strength coach who was in charge at the time of football player Tyler Heintz’s passing, on June 13th.

According to CBS Sports, Heintz, 19, was undergoing supervised drills during the second day of conditioning outside with Kent State’s football team when he collapsed. As of now, preliminary reports suggest Heintz’ death was due to hyperthermia, or the inability to cool one’s self off. But that’s preliminary, and the full biopsy will take another 6 weeks.

According to the CBS Sports article, Bowsher was running drills at this time due to the NCAA’s limits on head coach interaction time with the team. For this reason, the strength coaches are often those left responsible for team workouts over the summer months.

When Heintz passed, the temperature was 81 degrees, which isn’t particularly hot for a summer t-shirt and shorts conditioning workout. This makes it essential for the full biopsy to return in the investigation, as at this time, it’s difficult to rule hyperthermia as the only underlying health issue.

According to University of Oklahoma research, since the year 2000, this is the 35th instance of a college football player passing in sport (across all divisions). Of these 35 deaths, only six of them were classified as traumatic events, and overexertion, like in this occasion, is often the main reasoning.

This story has gained momentum due to allegations that Kent State can’t produce any form of certification for Bowsher. The CBS Sports says that if they can’t verify his certification, then this is a direct violation of the NCAA’s Bylaw 11.1.5, which states that a strength coach, “must maintain current certification through a nationally accredited strength and conditioning certification program.”

According to the article above, following the event, both the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association (CSCCa) reached out to CBS Sports to verify they have no records of Ross Bowsher within their systems. These are two of the major strength certifications that accommodate college and professional strength coaches.

The NCAA started requiring strength coaches to be certified in 2015 by an organization that’s accredited by the National Commission of Certifying Agencies (the NSCA & CSCCa both fall under this requirement). Chuck Stiggins, CSCCa executive director, told CBS Sports, “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.”

Until the full biopsy is complete, then it’s still a little too early to know the exact reasoning for Heintz’ death. Within the CBS Sports article, experts suggest the workouts weren’t overly strenuous.

There’s still no word on whether a lawsuit has or will be filed, or if Kent State’s athletic program will face penalties.

Feature image screenshot from @kentstate Instagram page. 

Jake Boly

Jake Boly

Jake holds a Master's in Sports Science and a Bachelor's in Exercise Science. Currently, Jake serves as the Fitness and Training Editor at BarBend.

He's a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and has spoken at state conferences on the topics of writing in the fitness industry and building a brand.

As of right now, Jake has published over 1,200 articles related to strength athletes and sports. Articles about powerlifting concepts, advanced strength & conditioning methods, and topics that sit atop a strong science foundation are Jake's bread-and-butter.

On top of his personal writing, Jake edits and plans content for 15 writers and strength coaches who come from every strength sport.

Prior to BarBend, Jake worked for two years as a strength and conditioning coach for hockey and lacrosse players, and a personal trainer the three years before that, and most recently he was the content writer at The Vitamin Shoppe's corporate office.

Jake competes in powerlifting in the 181 lb weight class, and considers himself a professional knee rehabber after tearing his quad squatting in 2017. On the side of writing full time, Jake works as a part-time strength coach and works with clients through his personal business Concrete Athletics in New York City.

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