Former Oregon player suing NCAA for $100 million over controversial workouts
Doug Brenner, a former Oregon player, filed a lawsuit against the NCAA in 2019 after a harsh workout led to him being hospitalized two years before. The ex-offensive lineman has since added a $100 million damages claim to the complaint.
Brenner alleges in the lawsuit that he sustained lifelong injuries during a series of controversial workouts in 2017. Former Oregon coach Willie Taggart and strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde are named in the suit. Oderinde was suspended by Oregon in 2017 after Brenner and two other players were hospitalized.
Brenner initially sued the NCAA for $11.5 million. According to court documents obtained by ESPN’s Heather Dinich, Brenner’s legal team amended the complaint on March 24 following discovery. The claim for pain and suffering was increased from $6 million to $20 million, and a $100 million punitive damages claim against the NCAA has been added.
The lawsuit claims that Oderinde was not qualified to be a strength and conditioning coach and did not have the proper certification. The NCAA argues that it does not have the power to pass health and safety bylaws or police the way schools are handling player health and safety.
Brenner’s complaint details a series of workouts in 2017 that were implemented after Taggart was hired at Oregon. The documents state that workouts began at 6 a.m. on four consecutive days and lasted 60-90 minutes. Water was allegedly not made available to players on at least the first day. The lawsuit states that several student athletes “vomited, passed out, or collapsed during the workouts” and that Oregon’s staff acknowledged the workouts “went beyond the student athletes’ natural limits after the first day.” The coaching staff allegedly brought in oxygen tanks the second day rather than changing or stopping the program.
Brenner, former tight end Cam McCormick and former offensive lineman Sam Poutasi were hospitalized as a result of the workouts with a condition called rhabdomyolysis. According to the lawsuit, the condition caused permanent damage to Brenner’s kidneys and has shortened his life expectancy by about 10 years.
All three players rejoined the team. Taggart left Oregon after one season to become the head coach at Florida State. He brought Oderinde with him, but Taggart was fired during his second season with the Seminoles. He now coaches at Florida Atlantic.
Taggart apologized after the 2017 incident and said he addressed the issue with his strength and conditioning team.
The trial for Brenner’s lawsuit is set to begin Tuesday.
Photo: Dec 29, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Oregon Ducks offensive linemen Elijah George (74) and Doug Brenner (57) pose with the Leishman trophy at media day for the 2015 Rose Bowl at the L.A. Hotel Downtown. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports