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Former Oregon Offensive Lineman Adds $100 Million to Lawsuit Against NCAA

Former Oregon offensive lineman Doug Brenner is suing the NCAA for $100 million in punitive damages over allegations of lifelong injuries sustained during a series of controversial workouts as a player in 2017, according to a report from ESPN.

The lawsuit named the University of Oregon and former coach Willie Taggart as defendants.

The lawsuit was first filed in January 2019 on behalf of Brenner by the law firm of Kafoury & McDougal. The initial lawsuit sought $11.5 million from the NCAA. Brenner increased the claim for pain and suffering from $6 million to $20 million and has also added the claim for punitive damages against the NCAA.

The lawsuit claims negligence against all defendants, which now includes former strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde, who allegedly did not carry industry-required certification to be a strength and conditioning coach at Oregon.

According to the lawsuit, offseason workouts took place at 6 a.m. every morning on four consecutive days. The workouts took place for 60 to 90 minutes and the staff “did not make water available in the workout room for at least the first day of the workouts.”

The lawsuit alleged that 40 players were in each workout group and had to do “10 perfect push-ups in unison.” If they were not done in unison, the players had to do up-downs and start the push-ups over. The complaint further alleges that over several days, “athletes vomited, passed out or collapsed” during the workouts. Instead of acknowledging that the first day of workouts went beyond natural limits, the staff brought oxygen tanks on the second day instead.

Brenner is seeking punitive damages from the NCAA for a condition called rhabdomyolysis, which he says he began suffering from as a result of workouts conducted shortly after Taggart was hired at Oregon.

Rhabdomyolysis is a condition in which skeletal muscle tissue is rapidly broken down and products of that process are released into the bloodstream, which causes permanent damage to the kidneys. Depending on the severity, the condition can lead to kidney failure. The lawsuit alleges that Brenner’s life expectancy has been reduced by about 10 years as a result of the medical condition.

In a statement to ESPN, Taggart said, “I care about every one of the players I’ve coached like they are my own sons, and I want each of them to be successful on and off the field. I would never want any of them to suffer any injury. I disagree with the things Doug Brenner has said in his complaint and am sorry we’re involved in this lawsuit, but I still wish him the best.”

The University of Oregon also responded to a request for comment from ESPN stating, “The health and safety of our students is our highest priority. There was a quick response to Doug Brenner’s injury, and he was provided the best care possible. We are grateful that he made a full recovery and was able to play during the 2017 season and also graduate from the University of Oregon. We disagree with the claims made by Mr. Brenner’s attorneys in their lawsuit and will address those in court.”

The civil trial begins on Tuesday in Eugene.