A former linebacker has filed a lawsuit against Notre Dame, claiming the university concealed the results of a spinal scan from him and that he has potentially permanent nerve damage to his neck.
Douglas Randolph filed the complaint in St. Joseph Circuit Court, naming coach Brian Kelly among the defendants, according to a report in The Indianapolis Star. Randolph says he shouldn’t have been allowed to continue playing during the 2015 season. The complaint says he was later diagnosed with spinal stenosis. It doesn’t specify damages being sought.
Randolph claimed that after an MRI trainer Rob Hunt and a team doctor told him it was safe for him to continue playing, the lawsuit said.
Notre Dame has yet to be served with the lawsuit.
“We’ve yet to be served with a lawsuit on this matter and can’t respond to something we haven’t seen,” Notre Dame’s vice president for public affairs and communications Paul Browne told The Star.
The suit says Randolph was hit during a practice drill and ‘suffered numbness.’ The complaint says symptoms continued after every impact on the field.
“If he had been told the truth about the results of this MRI scan, his football career would have ended on that date and all subsequent injuries and permanent damage he has endured would have never occurred,” the lawsuit says.
Randolph claimed that in October of 2015, he was in so much pain that a team doctor prescribed anti-inflammatory steroids for what was deemed a ‘muscle strain’ in his neck. Ultimately he suffered intense side effects which forced him to stop taking the painkiller.
In January of 2016, Randolph alleges, he ‘suffered complete numbness in all four extremities’ during the Fighting Irish’s loss in the Fiesta Bowl. The now-former linebacker claimed he told Hunt, but that the Notre Dame trainer told him to ‘get back in the game.’
Another MRI revealed spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spinal canal that can affect the nervous system.
A doctor unaffiliated with Notre Dame would alter tell Randolph that he has ‘possible, if not probable, permanent nerve damage in his neck that had occurred as a result of continuing to play college football.’
The injury ended Randolph’s playing career and in March of 2016, Kelly announced that Randolph would be deemed a medical redshirt, which allowed him to keep his scholarship. Randolph continued working with the program in 2016 as a student assistant.
The 24th-ranked Fighting Irish are preparing for a high-profile home game Saturday against No. 15 Georgia. It’s the second game of a pivotal season for Kelly after Notre Dame went 4-8 last year. The head coach spent the offseason overhauling his coaching staff.
Kelly has at times been criticized for making blunt public assessments of his players and throwing tantrums on the sideline that are often caught on television, but there have been no public accusations of player mistreatment.
How injuries are handled by football programs and coaching staffs, and how players are treated has become a more frequent topic in college football as the NCAA has put more emphasis on athlete welfare issues.
Illinois fired coach Tim Beckman in 2015 after a school investigation found he mishandled injured players and deterred players from reporting injuries. Indiana parted ways with coach Kevin Wilson last year after complaints of player mistreatment were investigated by the school.