"He started to have trouble with his breathing, we assume
it was hyperventilation," UW head athletic trainer Dennis Helwig said. "Without
taking any chances at all we called emergency transport for him. He is at
University Hospital and the initial reports are that everything is fine with
him, but they are going to do all the testing that is necessary to make sure
that he is OK before he is released."
In accordance with NCAA rules, Andre Williams was working out in shorts, T-shirt and helmet for his first day of practice, which took place in very mild weather conditions. It was a partly sunny Tuesday afternoon in Madison, with temperatures right around 80 degrees and a steady, cool 5-10 mph breeze.
"We were well within the realm of a workout," Helwig said. "Especially, we checked all of the environmental data and we were well within it for being in pads and he was simply in shorts and a T-shirt and helmet. It is very doubtful that it was heat related."
According to Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez, Williams checked into camp weighing in the mid-to-low 290s, making it unlikely that weight played a role in the episode. Williams is listed at 287 in the Badgers media guide.
Williams had been added to the 105-man fall camp roster Tuesday after defensive end Tim Ovadal left the team for personal reasons.
"Tim Ovadal had some personal problems," Alvarez said. "He left camp and we anticipate that he will come back when school starts, but he had some personal issues that he had to take care of."
Williams was doing basic conditioning work when the symptoms occurred. As far as Helwig knew, Williams has not been previously diagnosed with a medical condition that could have contributed to the hyperventilation.
Williams, who redshirted last season after a highly acclaimed prep career, never lost consciousness.
"(Williams was) doing drills what we normally do with our team in the offseason," Helwig said. "Ladder drills, just going over bags, doing some jogging back and forth and just started doing some hill work. Normally what we do with our players, we take them and run stadium stairs. So it was just sort of a normal format that we would do with anybody when we are doing conditioning drills."
Helwig said that the team took into consideration the fact the Williams had just returned to the team. The most important consideration, though, was caution and insuring Williams' health.
"This is his first day out and that is the other issue," Helwig said. "It is his first day out and that is not a normal thing that we would expect and so rather than take any chances that is what we did."
NCAA rules stipulate that players must practice two days in t-shirt, shorts and helmet and two days in shoulder pads and a helmet before working out in full pads. Williams was just 20 minutes into the first day of this regimen when the symptoms arose and he was taken to the hospital. It is unknown what conditions he is being tested for at University Hospital.
"The doctors will determine that," Helwig said.
Alvarez said he felt fortunate that the team has ready access to high-quality medical care.
"I think we are very fortunate here to have the medical help that we do," Alvarez said. "Starting with the excellent hospitals and the quality trainers and the medical people—we have doctors out here, not only trainers and physical therapists out here every day. We have doctors out here every day. If somebody goes down you have two qualified trainers right on the situation. It is a relief to me to be able to have that type of support, that type of help for our athletics."
It is unknown when Williams will be released from University Hospital.
"I got a call back (from the hospital) that he was doing fine and was no longer breathing hard and that they were just going to do some further tests," Helwig said.