Doug Brenner, a former Oregon offensive lineman, is suing the NCAA for $100 million in punitive damages in a trial beginning Tuesday in Eugene and the University of Oregon and its former head football coach, Willie Taggart, as defendants. takes the name.
Brenner alleged in the lawsuit that he suffered lifelong injuries during a series of controversial workouts in 2017.
The law firm of Kafori & McDougall first filed suit on Brenner’s behalf in Oregon State Circuit Court in January 2019, seeking $11.5 million from the NCAA. According to documents obtained by ESPN, Brenner increased the pain and suffering claim from $6 million to $20 million, and added a claim against the NCAA for punitive damages.
The firm filed an amended complaint after the search on March 24, which included statements from NCAA President Mark Emmert and Chief Medical Officer Brian Heinlein. Brenner also named former Oregon strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde as a defendant. Taggart, who was hired in Oregon in December 2016, is expected to participate in the trial personally with Oderinde.
Taggart left Oregon after one season to become head coach at Florida State, where he was fired during his second season. He is now the head coach at Florida Atlantic. The lawsuit alleges negligence against all defendants, accuses Taggart and Oderinde of imposing corporal punishment on players, failing to prohibit it and failing to ensure that Oderinde had enough to do his job. was training.
According to the lawsuit, Oderinde did not hold the industry-required certification to be a strength and conditioning coach in Oregon.
“I care about all the players I’ve coached, like my own sons, and I want each of them to be successful on and off the field,” Taggart said in a statement to ESPN. “I would never want any of them to get hurt. I disagree with what Doug Brenner said in his complaint and I am sorry that we are involved in this lawsuit. But I still wish him all the best.”
The NCAA declined comment when reached by ESPN Sunday night.
A university spokesman in Oregon issued the following statement to ESPN: “The health and safety of our students is our top priority. The response to Doug Brenner’s injury was prompt, and he was provided with the best care. We are grateful that he did.” Made a full recovery and was able to play during the 2017 season and also graduated from the University of Oregon. We disagree with the claims made by Mr. Brenner’s lawyers in his lawsuit and will address those in court.”
Brenner’s legal team is seeking massive punitive damages from the NCAA, arguing it has “acted with malice or shown a reckless and outrageous indifference to an extremely unreasonable risk of harm” because of the players during workouts. There is no specific rule or by-law about overexerting. The NCAA argues that it does not have the authority to pass health and safety bylaws – member schools and conferences are responsible for the health and safety of players.
The NCAA wrote in its protest, “Plaintiffs hold that the dozens of guidelines found in the 140-page Sports Medicine Handbook relating to the conduct of exercise and best practice should be subject to monitoring, investigation, and enforcement.” “It’s unforgivable.”
According to the lawsuit, Taggart told the players that when he was hired that he and the new coach were going to focus on discipline in strength and conditioning and that they were “going to find snakes in the grass and cut their heads off.” “
The document states that the workouts took place every morning on four consecutive days, and that Brenner was in a group that began at 6 a.m. The lawsuit states that Taggart and Oderinde did not review the training program with the school’s sports medicine staff, And Oregon failed they needed to do that.
According to the document, the workout lasted 60 to 90 minutes, and staff “did not provide water in the workout room for at least the first day of the workout.” The lawsuit also states that about 40 players in each group had to do “10 perfect push-ups in unison”, and if one of the athletes failed to keep pace with the rest or use correct technique. , then all the players had to do was move up and down and start the drill over.
The lawsuit argues that over several days, “student athletes vomited, passed out, or collapsed during workouts.” It said that Oregon’s medical staff “accepted that the workouts went beyond the natural limits of student athletes after the first day, but instead of stopping the workouts, university staff brought oxygen tanks on the second day.”
Oderinde, who was later hired by Taggart in Florida State for the same position, was suspended without pay for a month in 2017 by Oregon, following tight ends to Cam McCormick and offensive lineman Sam Potassi. Brenner and suffered from rhabdomyolysis as a result of the workouts. Taggart was organized in Oregon shortly after he was hired.
The condition, in which skeletal muscle tissue rapidly breaks down and the products of that process are released into the bloodstream, caused permanent damage to Brenner’s kidneys, and reduced his life expectancy by about 10 years, according to the lawsuit. Is. Depending on the severity, rhabdomyolysis can be harmful to the kidneys and lead to kidney failure, according to the US National Library of Medicine.
“I’ve never spoken to a president who feels that the responsibility lies with a sports federation to tell them how their medical professionals and training professionals should behave on campus,” Emmert said, according to a transcript of his statement. said. “Rather the role of the Association is to provide them with guidance and advice and understanding where the best is science and medical advice, but not to police their local behavior. This is not a role the Association has ever understood in 115 years as an athletic Appropriate thing for the Association.”
In accordance with the NCAA’s opposition to the inclusion of punitive damages, which was filed on March 1, the NCAA argued that Brenner’s proposal “resolve the on-the-field medical decisions of experienced athletic trainers, coaches, and team medical staff in Oregon.” Will attempt to replace. Administrative staff associated with a non-medical sports based in Indiana.”
The NCAA said that Brenner and his lawyers “failed to make clear what rule or bylaw should (or may be) adopted by the NCAA or its members”.
Brenner, McCormick and Potassi rejoined the team, but the incident prompted Oregon to change its reporting system, with the strength and conditioning coach answering to the Ducks’ director of performance and sports science instead of the head coach. . At the time, Taggart issued a public apology, saying, “I hold myself responsible for all football-related activities, and the safety of our students should come first.”