Former University of Oregon Football Player Doug Brenner Files Suit Against NCAA and Former Duck Coach Willie Taggart (Press Release)

January 9, 2019

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

FORMER UNIVERSITY OF OREGON FOOTBALL PLAYER DOUG BRENNER FILES SUIT AGAINST NCAA AND FORMER DUCK COACH WILLIE TAGGART

Doug Brenner, a former stand-out lineman at the University of Oregon, filed suit today against the NCAA and former Oregon football coach Willie Taggart, seeking compensation for serious, lifelong injuries sustained during a series of highly controversial workouts imposed on Duck players in January, 2017.  Brenner was one of three players hospitalized as a result of the workouts, all suffering from rhabdomyolysis.  This is a condition where the body “eats its own muscles,” creating toxic elements which go through the body causing damage, and in Brenner’s case, permanent damage to his kidneys.

The lawsuit was filed by the Portland law firm of Kafoury & McDougal, and attorney Travis Eiva.  Other defendants include Taggart’s strength and conditioning coach, Irele Oderinde, and the University of Oregon.

“The drills were done in unison, and whenever a player faltered, vomited, or fainted, his teammates were immediately punished with additional repetitions,” said Mark McDougal, of Brenner’s legal team.

Said McDougal, “A key goal of this lawsuit is to force the NCAA to ban these kinds of punishing, abusive workouts. These workouts are contrary to NCAA guidelines for protecting players from injury and death. Guidelines, however, are only suggestions.  The NCAA needs to enact and enforce binding regulations that outlaw these practices.”

Other incidents of abusive workouts have been publicized around the country, including that of the June, 2018, death of University of Maryland football player Jordan McNair, sparking allegations of an abusive culture in the program, which, after a massive public outcry, forced the firing of the head coach.

“This story closely parallels the NCAA’s past refusal to turn its concussion guidelines into regulations, a failure that has led to countless brain injuries; the full extent of which will only become apparent in coming decades,” said co-counsel Jason Kafoury.

When Willie Taggart came to Oregon, he declared his intention to stay, and to dedicate himself to building the Oregon football program over a number of years. Nonetheless, before the end of his first season, he left to become the head football coach at Florida State, walking away from the team and its players just prior to the Ducks’ appearance in the Las Vegas Bowl. Taggart was replaced by the current head coach, Mario Cristobal.

Brenner remains an avid fan of Duck football, explaining, “Nothing would make me happier than to have this case save other football players from serious injury.”  Medical evidence indicates that Brenner’s life expectancy has been reduced by upwards of ten years.

The drills designed by Taggart and Irele Oderinde, his conditioning coach and fellow defendant, were intended to break the spirit of players who would refuse to push themselves beyond their limits, with Taggart declaring that he was “going to find the snakes in the grass and cut their heads off.”

Doug Brenner was an All-State lineman at Portland’s Jesuit High School, and was a member of the Leadership Team on the Oregon football team at the time of the injuries.  His conditioning and his health never recovered from the experience, and his final year at Oregon in the fall of 2017 was a far cry from that of his earlier years.

 

PRESS COVERAGE

 

Heather Dinich, ESPN: Lawsuit Seeks $11.5 Million From NCAA, Oregon, Ex-Coach Over Workout-Caused Injuries, Jan. 9, 2019

Khadrice Rollins, Sports Illustrated: Former Oregon Player Doug Brenner Suing School, Willie Taggart, NCAA For $11.5 Million, Jan. 9, 2019

The Associated Press: Former Oregon Player Sues School, Former Coaches For Illness, Jan. 9, 2019

James Crepea, The Oregonian/Oregonlive: Former Oregon Ducks Football Player Doug Brenner Suing UO, Willie Taggart, NCAA For $11.5 Million, Jan. 9, 2019

John Cazano, The Oregonian/Oregonlive: Cazano: Lawsuit By Former Player Sets Up An Oregon Ducks vs. Willie Taggart Confrontation, Jan. 9, 2019

Nate Hanson, KGW 8: Former Ducks Player Says He Had Black Urine, Couldn’t Move His Arms After Taggart Workouts, Jan. 10, 2019

John Cazano, The Oregonian/Oregonlive: Listen: Doug Brenner Speaks Out On Why He’s Suing Willie Taggart, Oregon Ducks, NCAA, Jan. 10, 2019

John Taylor, NBC Sports: Oregon, Willie Taggart Being Sued By Ex-Duck For $11.5 Million, Jan. 10, 2019

Barrett Sallee, CBS Sports: Ex-Oregon Player Reportedly Suing Former Coach Willie Taggart, NCAA For $11.5 Million, Jan. 10, 2019

Timothy Rapp, Bleacher Report: Former Oregon OL Doug Brenner Sues Willie Taggart, NCAA, School For $11.5 Million, Jan. 9, 2019

Fox 12 News: Former Oregon Ducks Football Player On Filing $11.5 Million Lawsuit: ‘My Body Is Ruined’, Jan. 10, 2019

 

FURTHER READING

 

Guidelines for Exertional Rhabdomyolysis (From The NCAA Sports Medicine Handbook)

Brian Burnsed, NCAA: The Breaking Point — Can The Strength and Conditioning Coaching Profession Find Solutions That Help Remove Tragedy From Training? 

Beth Sizler, NATA: NCAA Addresses Exertional Rhabdomyolysis, Feb. 1, 2018 (Highlighted Version)

NCAA 2018-2019 Division I Manual Sections Regarding Concussions (Highlighted Version)

NCAA 2018-2019 Division I Manual (Free PDF Download)

NCAA Sports Medicine Handbook (Free PDF Download)

 

SIMILAR INCIDENTS IN THE NEWS

 

Adam Rittenberg, ESPN: Ex-Iowa Player Sues Over Rhabdo Injuries, Mar. 11, 2014

Associated Press, Hawk Central: Iowa Settles Lawsuit With Ex-Player Injured In 2011 Workout, Jan. 8, 2016

Talia Richman, The Baltimore Sun: Parents Of Late University Of Maryland Football Player Jordan McNair File Notice Of Possible Lawsuit, Sep. 12, 2018

B. David Ridpath, Forbes: Oregon’s Treatment Of Athletes Is Unacceptable But Sadly It Is More Common Than People Realize, Jan. 20, 2017

Rodger Sherman, The Ringer: College Football Isn’t As Safe As It Could Be, Jan. 19, 2017

Andrew Greif, The Oregonian/Oregonlive: Multiple Oregon Ducks Football Players Hospitalized After Grueling Workouts, Jan. 16, 2017