EUGENE Former Oregon Ducks footballers Doug Brenner and Sam Poutasi are seeking $100 million in damages from the NCAA and $25.5 million in damages for the damage caused by the University of Oregon's former UO football coach Willie Taggart and former strength coach Irele Oderinde in a trial that begins Tuesday in Eugene.
Following difficult offseason workouts that resulted in rhabdomyolysis and subsequent injuries, former players are seeking damages for gizmo-disease.
The trial,, will be brought to Circuit Court in Lane County before Judge Clara Rigmaiden and is scheduled for three weeks.
Following an investigation by NCAA president Mark Emmert, chief medical officer Brian Hainline, UO associate athletic trainer Travis Halseth, Oderinde, and others, attorneys for former players filed a new complaint on March 24. They allege the NCAA has filed a complaint, alleging that they would receive punitive damages, paid $20 million for suffering and $5.5 million for previous and future medical expenses.
The lawsuit alleges that Taggart and Oderinde were negligent in imposing and carrying out the workouts, for Taggart not ensuring Oderinde had adequate training to lead such exercises, Oderinde was unable to demonstrate the "necessary" training, and that the NCAA has failed to regulate or prohibit "extreme physical regimens" imposed by coaches at its member schools.
The players claim that the NCAA "acted with malice or has shown a reckless and outrageous indifference to a high risk of harm," and that it has acted with a conscious indifference to athletes' health, safety, and welfare in an attempt to disrupt workouts.
Plaintiffs claim that a court order by member institutions themselves would have prevented Plaintiffs' alleged injuries on the ground. Plaintiffs argue that a law adopted by members institutions themselves would have been to the advantage of Plaintiffs' injuries. To the contrary, the plaintiffs argue that a federal judge would replace the on-the-field medical judgments of experienced athletic trainers, coaches, and team medical personnel in Oregon.
The Oregonian/OregonLive received a reply to Doug Brenner's injury, stating, "The health and safety of our pupils is our top priority." We are grateful that he performed well during the 2017 season, and that he completed his degree from the University of Oregon. We disagree with Mr. Brenner's lawsuit and will address those in court."
Taggart was resigned a year later for Florida State after being fired during his second season as a football coach. After the incident, Oderinde arrived with him from South Florida and followed him to Florida State before returning to USF.
Officials at Florida Atlantic and South Florida did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Taggart and Oderinde.
Both men are expected to attend the trial in person.
The NCAA did not respond to a request for comment immediately.
According to the lawsuit, shortly after Taggart was hired by Oregon, he told the team that he and his coaching staff were going to focus on strength and conditioning discipline and that they would "find the snakes in the grass and cut their heads off."
The January 2017 workouts lasted several days when the team was relegated following a winter break, and both were described as as akin to military basic training; one would include up to an hour of constant push-ups and up-downs. When players couldn't finish the warm-up perfectly, they started over, with some groups repeating the process for up to an hour.
Safeguards were in place, according to multiple sources, with water available and players being permitted to ask out of the workouts if required. However, the lawsuit contends that players were not permitted to drink water during the first day of the workouts.
At the time, some Oregon players underestimated the severity of the workouts on social media.
According to the NCAA sports medicine handbook, Brenner, Poutasi, and tight end Cam McCormick were both diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, a syndrome in which muscles break down with "leakage into the blood stream of muscle contents."
The first four days of "transition periods" such as the resume of training after an academic year like Oregon's should be called "seminar-day exercises," which are documented, with a deliberate and progressively increase in volume, intensity, and duration of activity.
Brenner continued to play for the Ducks during his senior season in 2017, but had hip surgery in October 2017 and missed the rest of the season. He has since completed from UO with both his bachelor's and master's degrees.
Poutasi remained on the team for the 2020 season, after returning from the United States in the spring.
McCormick, who is still a member of Oregon's football team, has chosen not to file a lawsuit.