Published on September 21st, 2023 | by Mitchell Driskell0
The Local Lawyer: Barstool Briefs Part 41: “Short Stories on Legal Affairs”
DeSantos Rollins vs. Ole Miss
DeSanto Rollins has filed a lawsuit against Ole Miss and Coach Kiffin making allegations that his mental health issues were ignored by the football staff and that he was penalized for have a “mental health crises.” His lawsuit is filed in Federal Court here in Oxford (the big brick courthouse across and a little down the street from The Levee, Rafters, and St. Leo). I have read the “Complaint,” which is the document filed by the person bringing a lawsuit that starts the lawsuit.
The information in the Complaint is only one side of the story. Sometimes the allegations contained in a lawsuit are true, sometimes the allegations are false, the allegations are always written by a lawyer and intended to paint the best possible picture for the person bringing the lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges that NCAA schools, like Ole Miss, have agreed to have written procedures for addressing mental health problems of student athletes.
The lawsuit states that in 2014 the NCAA published a manual entitled “Mind, Body and Sport Understanding and Supporting Student=Athlete Mental Wellness” which was supposed to be followed by all NCAA schools. The lawsuit alleges that the NCAA published another manual the same year, “Inter-Association Consensus Document: Best Practices for Understanding and Supporting Student-Athlete Mental Wellness,” which was also supposed to be followed by NCAA schools. The lawsuit alleges that all schools were required to follow these manuals and have “written institutional procedures for routine mental health needs.”
The lawsuit further alleges a 2019 SEC rule requiring schools to distribute written mental health educational materials and resources to student athletes. The lawsuit alleges that Ole Miss did not follow a single one of these rules and that football staff was not trained on and did know how to identify mental health issues and then help student athletes who are having mental health issues. The lawsuit alleges that Rollins has gone through a series of injuries over the past two years and that these injuries have caused Rollins to first be frustrated and then anxious and depressed. The lawsuit says he did not recognize his need for mental health treatment but would have if Ole Miss had followed the NCAA and SEC rules requiring the school to educate student athletes on mental health issues. The lawsuit says that he displayed obvious signs of mental health problems and that if the football staff had been properly trained on mental health issues then someone would have spotted Rollins problem and referred him to mental health treatment.
Instead, the lawsuit alleges, Rollins continued to decline and he was then pressured to transfer. The lawsuit says Rollins decided not to transfer and was called in to Kiffin’s office where Kiffin told him he was being moved from defensive tackle to scout team offensive line, possibly as a punishment for not transferring. The lawsuit alleges that Kiffin yelled at Rollins in a hostile and verbally threatening tone. The lawsuit alleges that Rollins told Kiffin that he, Rollins, was going to take a “mental health break” but Kiffin continued to yell at him. (Author’s note: If Rollins was not trained on mental health issues, how did he know what a “mental health break” was and that it was a thing he could take?). The lawsuit alleges that Rollins and his mother then contacted other coaches and staff about the need for a “mental health break.”
The lawsuit alleges that Ole Miss then scheduled a meeting for Rollins with a sports psychologist in February, 2023 who suggested a “step back” from football so that Rollins could take care of his mental issues. The lawsuit alleges a second meeting with Kiffin in March, 2023 where Kiffin absolutely tore into Rollins. (Authors Note: It appears that Rollins was missing practice or other team functions during this time period but missing practice is not mentioned in the Complaint.)
The lawsuit contains what appears to be a word-for-word transcript of the meeting, but no audio recording was filed with the lawsuit, which would be expected if there was an audio recording of the meeting. I would be surprised if Rollins’ lawyer made such specific allegations if he did not have an audio recording. The lawsuit alleges that Rollins’ mistreatment is based on race and gender which makes his case against Ole Miss a case of constitutional violations. Rollins also claims violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act, which are more federal legal actions based on United States, not Mississippi, law.
Rollins alleges violation of Mississippi law with claims of negligence, gross negligence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Rollins seeks $10,000,000.00 in compensatory damages and $30,000,000.00 in punitive damages. Again, these allegations are only Rollins side of the story, written by his attorney, and should not be taken as factual until proven with evidence. I am sure that Ole Miss has an entirely different story to tell.
Mitchell Driskell practices law with the Tannehill & Carmean firm (voted Oxford’s Best Law Firm every year since 2010) and has been an Oxford lawyer for twenty two years. You can call him at 662.236.9996 and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He practices criminal law, civil law and family law.