Former Oregon offensive lineman Doug Brenner has reached a settlement with the university over a lawsuit related to his hospitalization following controversial workouts in 2017, one of Brenner’s attorneys told ESPN on Thursday.
As part of the settlement, Brenner dismissed claims against former Oregon football coach Willie Taggart, now the head coach at Florida Atlantic, and his former strength coach, Irele Oderinde. Financial terms were not disclosed. Brenner is still suing the NCAA for $100 million in punitive damages, and closing arguments began on Thursday afternoon.
The law firm of Kafoury & McDougal first filed the suit on behalf of Brenner in January 2019 in circuit court in the state of Oregon. Brenner was seeking $20 million in non-economic damages and $5.5 million in economic damages in his claims against Oregon, Taggart and Oderinde. The trial began April 12.
“I’m extremely sorry for the incident that transpired, but I’m happy that a lot of ‘Truths’ came out during the proceedings,” Taggart said in a statement to ESPN. “Now, my total focus is getting back to our FAU Football Family, and our Student-Athletes.”
Brenner’s legal team is still seeking massive punitive damages from the NCAA, arguing it “acted with malice or has shown a reckless and outrageous indifference to a highly unreasonable risk of harm” because there isn’t a specific rule or bylaw regarding overexerting players during workouts .
The NCAA argues that it doesn’t have the authority to pass health and safety bylaws — the member schools and conferences are responsible for players’ health and safety.
Oderinde, who was later hired by Taggart at Florida State for the same position, was suspended by Oregon in 2017 for a month without pay after tight end Cam McCormick and offensive lineman Sam Poutasi were hospitalized with Brenner and suffered from rhabdomyolysis as a result of workouts conducted shortly after Taggart was hired at Oregon.
According to the lawsuit, the workout lasted for 60 to 90 minutes, and the staff “did not make water available in the workout room for at least the first day of the workouts.” The lawsuit also states that about 40 players in each group had to do “10 perfect push-ups in unison,” and if one of the athletes was out of synch with the rest or failed to use perfect technique, all of the players had to do up-downs and start the drill over.
Brenner, McCormick and Poutasi rejoined the team following their hospitalizations, but the incident prompted Oregon to change its reporting system, with the strength and conditioning coach answering to the Ducks’ director of performance and sports science instead of the head coach.
According to the Oregonian, the university, Taggart and Oderinde contended during the trial that the workouts were excessive, but not intended to be punitive. Oderinde apologized during his testimony last week, according to the Oregonian.
“You never want kids to be injured in any way, especially from a workout or even at practice,” Oderinde said on Thursday, according to the Oregonian. “But at the same time, you want to push kids and you want to push them safely. I feel like with today’s outcome, I believe Doug understands our intent was never for that, it was to build young men and to build a team. “
Oregon, in a statement Thursday, said “the trial testimony showed that no one at the UO intended harm to any student, and that our response and care of our students after the accident was the best we could provide, which we believe enabled the students to make a full recovery. At this point, terms of the settlement agreement are confidential as they are being finalized.”