OXFORD, Miss. — University of Mississippi defensive tackler DeSanto Rollins has filed a lawsuit against the university and Head Football Coach Lane Kiffin.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi Thursday. In the suit, Rollins claims he was removed from the football team after suffering physical injuries and experiencing a “mental health crisis.”
Rollins is reportedly asking for damages in the amount of $500,000 from the university under the Mississippi Tort Claims Act and $10 million, plus “the loss of future income,” from the university and Kiffin “in his official and individual capacities for violation of federal law.”
Rollins claims that he injured his knee on September 7, 2020, and that Kiffin decided to “red-shirt” him for the 2020 football season. Rollins says he recovered enough to practice in the spring of 2021, but ultimately aggravated the injury in August 2022.
The suit claims that Rollins was unable to play or practice without “excruciating pain” but that coaches told him to “work through the pain” and required him to practice for at least another three days.
Rollins is claiming that he was forced to practice with his knee injury from August 2022 until December 11, 2022, when he received a cortisone shot. The lawsuit states that Rollins was also “suffering a mental injury” stemming from a November 2022 encounter with one of the coaches that left him feeling “humiliated, embarrassed, undervalued, and unworthy.”
According to the lawsuit, Rollins had a meeting with Kiffin on February 27, 2023, in which Kiffin reportedly told Rollins that he had asked a coach to get Rollins to transfer, but that Rollins’s family wanted him to stay. The lawsuit claims that Kiffin told Rollins he would be moving him to the offensive line, and when Rollins asked if he had a choice in the matter, Kiffin began to “yell and scream” and encouraged Rollins to quit the team.
Rollins’s suit claims that after the meeting with Kiffin, Rollins decided to take a “mental break” from football and was eventually scheduled to have a meeting with the Assistant Athletic Director for Sport Psychology, who he claims told him that he “did not look depressed.”
Rollins claims that he spoke with the assistant director on two other occasions and that she encouraged him to speak with Kiffin. The lawsuit claims that Rollins met with Kiffin on March 21, 2023. Rollins alleges that during that meeting, Kiffin kicked him off the team, called him a derogatory term, and shouted expletives at him regarding his mother and his mental health.
The suit also alleges that the University of Mississippi ignored the NCAA’s rules regarding mental health for student-athletes “gross negligently, intentionally, deliberately, maliciously, and with reckless disregard for the health and rights of Mr. Rollins.”