Ole Miss football player files $40 million lawsuit alleging university and coach harmed his mental health

Amelia Neath
Friday 15 September 2023 17:08 BST
Ole Miss football player DeSanto Rollins
Ole Miss football player DeSanto Rollins (Justin Ford/Getty Images)

A college football player is suing the University of Mississippi and head coach Lane Kiffin for aggravating his “mental health crisis” as well as alleging racial and sexual discrimination and multiple other infractions, according to a lawsuit obtained by ESPN.

DeSanto Rollins has filed the lawsuit seeking $40 million after he was allegedly kicked off the Ole Miss Rebels football team due to a "mental impairment,” the suit says.

The lawsuit says the school employees showed “reckless disregard” for his mental health issues, such as depression and anxiety, which violated the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Mr Rollins had a several injuries during his time with the Rebels, such as a concussion in early 2022 and an injury to his right Achilles in July 2022. The lawsuit claims that he also “suffered severe depression, anxiety, frustration, embarrassment, humiliation, a loss of sleep and loss of appetite," ESPN reports.

The lawsuit claims that no one within the athletic department or football staff at the university provided Mr Rollins with any mental health support through materials or referrals after his injury.

Other incidents contributed to Mr Rollins developing depression and anxiety throughout the school year, the suit says, such as exacerbating a previous knee injury which caused him physical pain and"severe depression." He also lost his grandmother in January, ESPN reports.

Mr Rollins also said he was demoted to the scout team’s offensive line. When he asked if this was “a choice or a command,” his coach Mr Kiffin allegedly said that "if he didn’t like it then he should quit."

He decided after this he would take a “mental break” from the team and his mother, Connie Rollins, sought a counsellor by contacting the school’s athletics trainer.

Lane Kiffin, the head coach for Ole Miss Rebels
Lane Kiffin, the head coach for Ole Miss Rebels (Justin Ford/Getty Images)

According to ESPN, the lawsuit alleges that Mr Kiffin intentionally treated Mr Rollins harshly "on account of race for requesting and taking a mental health break, but not taking adverse action against white student-athletes" for the same request.

The lawsuit also alleges sexual discrimination on the basis that Ole Miss did not take "adverse action against female student-athletes for requesting and taking a mental health break."

An Ole Miss spokesperson gave a statement to The Independent on Friday, saying, "We have not received a lawsuit. DeSanto was never removed from the football team and remains on scholarship," the spokesperson said. "In addition, he continues to have the opportunity to receive all of the resources and advantages that are afforded a student-athlete at the university."

Kiffin declined to comment to ESPN and referred them to the same school statement given to The Independent.

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