Ex-Virginia receiver sues school alleging hazing, discrimination
Former Virginia wide receiver Aidan Howard sued the school last week saying in court documents that the school "fostered a culture of bullying, abuse, harassment, and discrimination."
Howard, a freshman, says that his Virginia teammates bullied him and make fun of him because of a learning disability. Howard also says that he was hazed over the summer, which led to him suffering a broken eye socket.
The federal civil rights lawsuit was filed Oct. 14 in U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania and lists teammates Doni Dowling and David Eldridge as defendants. Dowling is a junior wide receiver and Eldridge is a sophomore wide out.
Virginia's wide receivers coach Marques Hagans, school president Teresa Sullivan, athletic director Craig Littlepage, and graduate assistant Famika Anae are also named as a defendants, but head coach Bronco Mendenhall is not.
Howard alleges the team's coaches knew about the hazing and did nothing to stop it. The lawsuit claims Virginia, its administrators, coaches and other students violated Title IX gender equity laws, and the Americans with Disabilities Act and negligence laws,
In the lawsuit, Howard describes the incident in which he says he was injured.
On Aug. 12, Howard says Dowling and Eldridge forced him to fight another player on the team following practice as part of an "initiation."
Dowling and Eldridge continued to taunt Howard during practice, the lawsuit says, and used athletic tape to mark off a fighting area in the locker room. Both players forced Howard and the other unnamed player to enter the ring to "flashing lights, loud music and announcement to simulate a 'prize fight.'"
Howard suffered severe eye injuries and has since transferred to Robert Morris University after being granted a release.
"We want some accountability by the university and the student-athletes who were responsible for doing this to Aidan," said Howard's attorney, C. James Zeszutek.
Zeszutek says there is an active Title IX investigation regarding the incident.
– Scooby Axson