A former University of Virginia football player was bullied and harassed by teammates because of his learning disability and seriously injured after being forced to fight another athlete in order to prove his "manliness," according to a federal lawsuit filed against the school this month. Aidan Howard said his teammates called him "slow" and "retarded" in front of coaches when he couldn't quickly comprehend plays. Howard also suffered a broken eye socket when he was forced to fight another first-year player in August as part of his "initiation" onto the team, according to the complaint. A university spokesman said the school is investigating, but couldn't comment further on the lawsuit.
The complaint says the hazing was done primarily by two wide receivers: Doni Dowling and David Eldridge. In addition to making fun of Howard for his learning disability, it says the two would make him eat his lunch and dinner alone "because he was not as tough and manly as others within the football program." The lawsuit states Dowling and Eldridge orchestrated a locker room fight between Howard and another player that was witnessed by more than 100 people. The lawsuit claims the university knew why Howard chose to leave the school, but did nothing about it. Howard transferred shortly after the incident and it's "unclear if he will ever be able to play football again," the complaint states. Howard is asking for unspecified monetary damages. (Read more college football stories.)