Doug Brenner, a former Oregon offensive lineman, has reached a settlement with the university over a lawsuit related to his hospitalization after controversial exercises in 2017, one of Brenner’s attorneys told ESPN Thursday.
As part of the settlement, Brenner dismissed the allegations against former Oregon football coach Willie Taggart, the current head coach of Florida Atlantic, and former coach Earl Oderend. Financial terms were not disclosed. Brenner is still suing the NCAA for $100 million in punitive damages, and closing arguments began Thursday afternoon.
The law firm of Kavouri and McDougall first filed the lawsuit on behalf of Brenner in January 2019 in circuit court in Oregon. Brenner was seeking $20 million in non-economic damages and $5.5 million in economic damages in his lawsuits against Oregon, Taggart, and Odierend. The trial began on April 12.
“I am deeply sorry for the incident that occurred, but I am glad that many of the ‘facts’ came to light during the proceedings,” Taggart said in a statement to ESPN. “Now, my full focus is on getting back to the FAU family of football, and student-athletes.”
Brenner’s legal team is still seeking significant punitive damages from the NCAA, arguing that it “acted with malice or demonstrated reckless and outrageous indifference to an extremely unreasonable risk of harm” because there is no specific rule or bylaw regarding player fatigue during training.
The NCAA argues that it does not have the authority to pass health and safety regulations — member schools and conferences are responsible for players’ health and safety.
Oderinde, later appointed by Florida’s Taggart to the same position, was suspended by Oregon in 2017 for a month without pay After a tight end, Cam McCormick and offensive lineman Sam Potassi were hospitalized with Brenner and suffered rhabdomyolysis as a result exercises. Conducted shortly after Taggart’s assignment to Oregon.
According to the lawsuit, the exercise lasted from 60 to 90 minutes, and the employees “did not make water available in the exercise room at least on the first day of the workouts.” The suit also states that about 40 players in each group had to do “10 perfect push-ups in unison,” and if one athlete was out of step with the rest or failed to use perfect technique, all players should do so. Do the upper exercises and start the exercise.
Brenner, McCormick and Botassi returned to the team after being hospitalized, but the incident prompted Oregon to change its reporting system, with the strength and conditioning coach responding to the Ducks Performance and Sports Science director instead of the head coach.
According to the Oregonian newspaper, the university, Taggart and Odirind asserted during the trial that the exercises were excessive, but not intended to be punitive. Oderend apologized during his testimony last week, according to the Oregonian newspaper.
“You never want kids to be injured in any way, especially from training or even during training,” Odirind was quoted by The Oregonian newspaper on Thursday. “But at the same time, you want to push the kids and you want to push them safely. I feel that with today’s result, I think Doug understands that our intention was never for that, it was to build the youth and build a team.”
Oregon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.