Ole Miss Player Sues Coach, School for $40M

DeSanto Rollins says football coach Lane Kiffin verbally abused him during mental health crisis
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 15, 2023 8:16 AM CDT
Ole Miss Player Sues Coach for Abuse Over Mental Health
Mississippi head coach Lane Kiffin watches on during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Mercer in Oxford, Miss., Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023.   (AP Photo/Thomas Graning)

Ole Miss defensive tackle DeSanto Rollins is suing the university and head football coach Lane Kiffin, alleging his rights were violated during a mental health crisis. In a lawsuit filed Thursday, Rollins claims he was kicked off the team for a "mental impairment," in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. He also alleges racial and sexual discrimination, noting Kiffin took adverse actions against himself, a Black man, but not against white and female student-athletes who requested a mental health break, per ESPN. Included in the lawsuit, seeking $10 million in compensatory damages and $30 million in punitive damages, is a transcript of a recording in which Kiffin allegedly tells Rollins that his failure to show up for football in the midst of a mental health crisis meant he was "being a p---y."

Rollins claims he "suffered severe depression, anxiety, frustration, embarrassment, humiliation, a loss of sleep and loss of appetite" after an injury to his right Achilles tendon in July 2022, which was followed by the death of his grandmother in January. On Feb. 27, Kiffin told Rollins he would be moved to the scout team's offensive line because he'd been unwilling to transfer, the suit claims. Kiffin allegedly told Rollins to accept the change or quit. Rollins, who claims he was never informed of the "need for a mental health evaluation or a mental health referral," then announced he was taking a mental health break, per Fox News. He began seeing the school's assistant athletic director for sport psychology, who soon informed him Kiffin wanted to meet, per the suit. Rollins wasn't ready. The pair finally met on March 21. Unbeknownst to Kiffin, Rollins was recording.

"If I have mental issues—and I'm not diminishing them—I can't not see my f---ing boss," Kiffin allegedly told Rollins. "I guarantee if we f---ing called you in and said you're playing defense, would you have mental issues?" he asked. "I definitely would," Rollins responded. Kiffin then told Rollins he was off the team. "When the head coach asks to meet with you and you don't show up for weeks, we can remove you from the team." "It's called being a p---y," Kiffin allegedly added. "It's called hiding behind s--- and not showing up to work." Ole Miss says it hasn't received the suit, per CBS Sports. It adds Rollins was never removed from the team, remains on scholarship, and "continues to have the opportunity to receive all of the resources and advantages that are afforded a student-athlete at the university." (More University of Mississippi stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.