A former Oregon Ducks football player has filed a negligence lawsuit against the university, former Ducks coach Willie Taggart, a former strength coach and the NCAA alleging that overly harsh workouts imposed in 2017 led to at least three players being hospitalized.
Doug Brenner, an offensive lineman for the Ducks from 2014-17, categorizes the workouts as "physical punishment regimens" in his lawsuit, and he blames the NCAA as well for failing to regulate schools' workout practices.
The filing demands $11.5 million in damages.
Brenner and two other Ducks players, fellow offensive lineman Sam Poutasi and tight end Cam McCormick, were hospitalized in January 2017.
All three were diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, according to The Oregonian, which cited the NCAA sports medicine handbook in describing the disorder as a breakdown of muscles with "leakage into the bloodstream of muscle contents."
Poutasi and McCormick, who just completed their sophomore seasons for the Ducks, are not parties in the lawsuit, according to The Oregonian, which added that some Ducks players said on social media at the time that the workouts weren't a big deal.
Several people told The Oregonian at the time that the workouts, instituted by Taggart and strength coach Irele Oderinde, who had both just been hired after being together at South Florida, were characterized as like military basic training.
By at least one account, the workout included nonstop push-ups and up-downs. Any failure to complete the drill perfectly meant starting over, with some groups repeating the process for up to an hour.
"The drills were done in unison, and whenever a player faltered, vomited, or fainted, his teammates were immediately punished with additional repetitions," one of Brennan's lawyers, Mark McDougal, said in a statement.
"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. The NCAA needs to enact and enforce regulations that outlaw these practices," McDougal said in the statement.
The Oregonian reported at the time that several sources said the staff had safeguards in place, such as water freely available to players, who could stop their workout if they needed to.
Brenner's lawsuit, however, alleges that players couldn't stop to take a drink of water during the first day of the workouts.
Taggart, who left Oregon to become head coach at Florida State in December 2017, again took Oderinde with him as his strength coach.
According to The Oregonian, officials at Florida State did not immediately respond when they were asked whether Taggart and Oderinde would like to comment on the lawsuit. The NCAA also did not immediately respond, the paper said.
In a statement released Wednesday, Oregon said in part, "We have been advised of the litigation filed today but have not been served a copy of the complaint, at which point we will respond appropriately in the court proceedings. In light of the pending litigation, we don't have any additional comment at this time."