Former Oregon player sues school, former coaches for illness
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Former Oregon football player Doug Brenner has filed a lawsuit against the university, the NCAA, former coach Willie Taggart and a former strength coach for negligence over a strenuous workout that sent him and two other players to the hospital.
Brenner is seeking $11.5 million in damages from the January 2017 workout that caused rhabdomyolysis and other injuries, the lawsuit said.
Rhabdomyolysis is a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when muscle tissue breaks down and leaks into the blood. The condition can cause kidney damage.
“The drills were done in unison, and whenever a player faltered, vomited, or fainted, his teammates were immediately punished with additional repetitions,” said Mark McDougal, one of Brenner’s attorneys.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Multnomah County Circuit Court in Oregon, claims the school failed to regulate or supervise the workouts, and alleges that Taggart and former strength coach Irele Oderinde were negligent in imposing them. It also claims that the NCAA has failed to address such practices.
“These workouts are contrary to NCAA guidelines for protecting players from injury and death. Guidelines, however, are only suggestions,” McDougal said. “The NCAA needs to enact and enforce binding regulations that outlaw these practices.”
Taggart was coach at Oregon for one season before leaving for Florida State. Oderinde is currently on his staff.
Oregon issued a statement Wednesday that said the well-being and safety of its students are top priorities at the university.
“We have been advised of the litigation filed today but have not been served a copy of the complaint, at which point we will respond appropriately in the court proceedings. In light of the pending litigation, we don’t have any additional comment at this time,” the statement said.
Oregon suspended Oderinde for a month following the 2017 incident.
In January 2018, two Nebraska football players were hospitalized after falling ill during winter conditioning drills. Huskers coach Scott Frost told the Lincoln Journal Star both were treated for rhabdomyolysis.
In 2011, 13 Iowa football players were hospitalized for rhabdo after an offseason workout, and in 2016 the university paid $15,000 to settle a $200,000 lawsuit brought by one of the players.
In a statement released through his attorneys, Brenner said: “Nothing would make me happier than to have this case save other football players from serious injury.”