Long-time Ohio State team physician dies

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 25, 2003

COLUMBUS -- Dr. Robert Murphy, team physician for the Ohio State football team from 1952-1993, has died.

Murphy died Saturday night at a hospice in Riverside Methodist Hospital after an extended illness. He was 80.

Murphy was nationally recognized as a pioneer in the change in water usage by athletes in the prevention of heat strokes.

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Up until the late 1950s, football players commonly took salt tablets, didn't wear mesh jerseys and took few water breaks.

''Everybody used to think that sweat is salt and the more salt you take the better,'' said Bill Davis, OSU's head athletic trainer. ''But in reality, we now know through science that salt speeded up dehydration.''

Murphy campaigned for unlimited use of water in all sports after four Ohio State players passed out after a hot summer practice in 1957. One lapsed into a coma after suffering heat stroke. He revived but missed the entire season.

Before the change, there were several heat-related deaths a year in football.

''Dr. Bob was one of the reasons Ohio State Football is legendary,'' coach Jim Tressel said. ''He was a leader in the field of sports medicine, especially in hydration for athletes and one of the reasons everyone looked to Ohio State.''

Murphy was team physician under coaches Woody Hayes, Earl Bruce and John Cooper.

Murphy was a graduate of The Ohio State University College of Medicine and served as a captain in the Army during World War II and practiced Internal Medicine for 50 years.

Murphy is survived by his sons Mark Murphy and Dr. Link Murphy, who is also a team physician for Ohio State, and daughters Vickie Jean Murphy and Leslie Oyler, and 11 grandchildren.

Calling hours will be Thursday at Schoedinger Northwest Chapel in Columbus preceding a private entombment at Union Cemetery. There will be a celebration of his life held Sunday at First Community Church in Columbus.