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UH Board of Regents short on answers in excessive workout investigation

HOUSTON – The head women's soccer coach acted appropriately although he should have stopped the February 2018 workout before it became excessive, in your words he should have stopped this workout?

"Yes." 

That was PeterTaafe's response to the question during an exchange with Channel 2 Investigates on Thursday morning. Taaffe is now a former University of Houston Regent. Prior to completing his term he was tasked with investigating a women's soccer workout in February 2018 that left one player in the hospital for five days with the potentially deadly medical condition known as rhabdo.

"That was the purpose of our review, to figure out what happened and to make recommendations so that it doesn't happen again," Taafe said.

The report was presented during the UH's Board of Regents meeting.  It states: women's soccer coach Diego Bocanegra, athletic department management and university leadership acted appropriately.

Channel 2 Investigates asked why did the University not come to the same conclusion the Board of Regents Audit Department investigation did?

"You have to ask them," said Taaffe in an interview. 

This was one of our key questions that was left unanswered in the board's internal investigation.

When asked how did punishment workouts get allowed into the program by the head soccer coach? Taaffe said, " I don't believe the head soccer coach did that."   When Channel 2 Investigates reminded him, it was in his manual, Taaffe admitted, "That is a good question. I don't know why it's in the manual?"

We also asked, why did the coach even allow it to happen?  

"That ... that's a good question," Taafe said.

We did ask Taaffe if the question was even asked of Bocanegra? "Yeah," was the response.  

As far as an answer to the question?  

"Well the response from him as I understand it … well I didn't personally talk to him -- I was directing this -- was that he really didn't follow to the extent that it would be 250 to 300 up downs, that it would be some type of running laps or running sprints,"   Taafe said.

When we questioned how the coach could not have known if he was present and he saw these girls go up and down, up and down to the point that one ended up in the hospital, Taaffe said, "Well you are going to have to ask him that question." 

Another key takeaway, Athletic Director Chris Pezman had no clue that one of his female athletes was hospitalized for nearly five days with rhabdo until nearly a year after the incident.  

We asked Taaffe how does this happen?  "That's a good question," he said.   When we asked Taaffe if he asked the question considering his role? Taaffe said, "Yeah and there was not a response, it just didn't happen."

The investigation was led by Taaffe and conducted by the University of Houston's Chief Audit Executive and their deputy.  The investigation started this past June, in the aftermath of Channel 2 Investigates report on the February 2018 punishment workout.   

The workout was called after two players allegedly took food from the men's football team.  The report's timeline says, "The Asst. Strength Coach learned of this incident and requested permission from the head women's soccer coach to handle incident, and he granted permission.  The soccer coaching staff, including the head women's soccer coach observed the entirety of the workout. The workout resulted in a soccer student-athlete being hospitalized for rhabdo after being misdiagnosed by the UH Sports Medicine Staff."