DeSanto Rollins, a junior defensive tackle recently kicked off the Ole Miss Rebels football team for missing practices and meetings during what was described as a "mental health crisis," is suing Ole Miss and head coach Lane Kiffin.
In the suit, the reason is described as the school and Kiffin failing to "provide equal protection, racial and sexual discrimination, and multiple other allegations," ESPN reports.
Rollins, who's dealt with many injuries during his college career, is seeking $10 million in compensatory damages and $30 million in punitive damages.
Ole Miss DT DeSanto Rollins is suing the university and head coach Lane Kiffin for $40 million in damages.
Rollins alleges Kiffin was ?malicious, intentional, willful, wanton, grossly reckless, and indifferent? to his mental health.
— Front Office Sports (@FOS) September 15, 2023
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi Oxford Division, alleges Kiffin took action against Rollins "on account of race for requesting and taking a mental health break, but not taking adverse action against white student-athletes for the same request."
The sexual discrimination comes on the basis that the university hasn't taken "adverse action against female student-athletes for requesting and taking a mental health break."
"We have not received a lawsuit," Ole Miss wrote in a statement issued through a school spokesman Thursday night. "DeSanto was never removed from the football team and remains on scholarship. In addition, he continues to have the opportunity to receive all of the resources and advantages that are afforded a student-athlete at the university."
Currently, Kiffin declined to comment and referred to the university's statement.
The lawsuit continues with other allegations, including the following:
- Ole Miss "did not have written institutional procedures for routine mental health referrals."
- Kiffin and the rest of the staff and trainers didn't have "role-appropriate training about the signs and symptoms of mental health disorders and the behaviors of student-athletes to monitor that may reflect psychological concerns."
- No one provided Rolins with materials about mental health or referral following his injuries.
As mentioned, Rollins has dealt with injuries throughout college. Those include a concussion in 2022, aggravating a previous injury to his LCL in his left knee, and a right Achilles injury. The lawsuit mentions that due to the Achilles injury, Rollins "suffered severe depression, anxiety, frustration, embarrassment, humiliation, a loss of sleep and loss of appetite."
From here, a timeline of events took place, per the lawsuit:
- November 2022: Rollins meets with defensive line coach Randal Joyner. Joyner tried to convince him to enter the transfer portal, but he declined.
- January 2023: Rollins' grandmother passes away.
- February 2023: Rollins met with Kiffin, who said he was moving him from the defensive line to a scout team offensive lineman. He asked Kiffin if this was a "choice or command," to which Kiffin responded by saying, "If he didn't like it, then he should quit," according to Rollins.
- March 2023: Rollins decides to take a mental health break but meets with Kiffin. He records the conversation without Kiffin knowing, though legally.
Below is part of the conversation from the lawsuit, per ESPN.
"Ok, you have a f—-ing head coach, this is a job, guess what, if I have mental issues and I'm not diminishing them, I can't not see my f—-ing boss," Kiffin said, according to the lawsuit and the audio recording. "When you were told again and again the head coach needs to see you, wasn't to make you practice, wasn't to play a position you don't f—-ing want to, ok? It was to talk to you and explain to you in the real world, ok? So I don't give a f—- what your mom say, ok, or what you think in the real f—-ing world, you show up to work, and then you say, 'Hey, I have mental issues, I can't do anything for two weeks, but if you change my position I won't have mental issues.'
"I guarantee if we f—-ing called you in and said you're playing defense, would you have mental issues?"
"I definitely would," Rollins said.
During the audio exchange, Rollins is heard saying, "I mean, you're acting like my issues aren't real."
"I didn't say they're not real," Kiffin responded. "You show up when your head — when your boss wants to meet with you. It wouldn't have been like this. If you would've come here when you kept getting messages the head coach wants to talk to you, you say 'I'm not ready to talk to him.'"
"I wasn't," Rollins said.
"What f—-ing world do you live in?" Kiffin asked.
"I don't see why you have to be disrespectful, honestly," Rollins said.
"Get out of here," Kiffin said. "Go, you're off the team. You're done. See ya. Go. And guess what? We can kick you off the team. So go read your f—-ing rights about mental health. We can kick you off the team for not showing up. 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 said. "It's called hiding behind s—- and not showing up to work."
Lane Kiffin makes $9 million per year off of athletes that "work" in exchange for office equipment, a bed, and access to education. He's not in the real world and neither are his players.
— Ralph Amsden (@ralphamsden) September 15, 2023
Rollins is scheduled to graduate in December with a business degree. To this point, Rollins has appeared in just three games for the Rebels since 2020 and has recorded three tackles.
When asked for comment, Rollins declined but did tell ESPN, "I love Ole Miss, but they do not love me."
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