LOUISVILLE — A Kentucky high school football coach threatened to run players until someone quit the team, but he did not violate any high school athletic rules when a player collapsed during practice, a school system report concluded Wednesday.
The Jefferson County Public Schools report also said there was evidence that 15-year-old Pleasure Ridge Park lineman Max Gilpin might have been ill with a headache and congestion before the practice.
A lawyer for the player's mother, who has filed a lawsuit over the death, however, disputed the doctor's findings.
The report comes about 10 months after Gilpin collapsed while running at the end of a pre-season practice. Gilpin died three days later of septic shock, multiple organ failure and heat stroke.
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Former Pleasure Ridge Park coach David Jason Stinson has been charged with reckless homicide in a rare criminal case involving a player's heat death. He has pleaded not guilty, and a trial is set to begin Aug. 23.
The 300-plus page report states that Stinson, upset that some players had been goofing off during practice, told the team they would run a series of sprints, known as "gassers," until someone quit the team. The report said such a workout isn't against any rules or policies.
Jefferson County Schools Superintendent Sheldon Berman said he was "extremely troubled" by what Stinson told the players.
"Such motivational tools are not acceptable," Berman said.
He said the school district will train coaches to use positive motivation with athletes.
The report also said an independent physician hired by the district to review the case, Dr. Daniel Rusyniak, found that there was evidence Max was ill prior to the Aug. 20 practice. The doctor concluded that an illness would have made Max more susceptible to heat stroke, but with no autopsy, the cause of his sepsis was more difficult to confirm. Rusyniak, a specialist in emergency medicine at Indiana University, reviewed Max's medical records, but did not examine him.
The report also notes Max had been taking the dietary supplement creatine, as well as Adderall, an amphetamine prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
The report said the coaches were not aware Gilpin had taken creatine, but it also found there wasn't enough information to say whether creatine or Adderall contributed to Gilpin's death.
Side effects for creatine, an over-the-counter supplement, are listed by the National Institute of Health as cramps or muscle breakdown, heat intolerance and electrolyte imbalances. Gilpin's mother, Michelle Crockett, has said previously her son had taken creatine but stopped before pre-season practices.
Todd Thompson, an attorney for Crockett, said the report's conclusions were not a surprise because the school system has from the beginning sought to exonerate themselves and the coaches in the teen's death.
"I didn't expect them to do anything but blame the child for his own death," Thompson said.
Thompson said Rusyniak's analysis of Max's health is off the mark and a pre-season physical declared the teenager in good health.
Steve Tedder, a spokesman for Jefferson County Commonwealth Attorney David Stengel, said the report was evidence in the criminal case and declined to comment. Stinson's attorney also declined to comment.