Former South Carolina defensive lineman Stanley Doughty is the lead plaintiff on a lawsuit against the NCAA filed this week claiming college football’s governing body “breached its duty to protect NCAA football players.”
The 28-page lawsuit, which was filed in the Columbia division of United States District Court on Tuesday, asks for the NCAA to provide a medical monitoring fund for all former college football players who did not play in the NFL as well as pay unspecified damages “to compensate Plaintiffs for past, current, and future injuries sustained as a result of the Defendant’s conduct.”
The suit also seeks damages “for the wanton, reckless, intentional and/or wrongful conduct of the Defendant and to punish and deter similar wrongful conduct physical pain and suffering mental anguish permanent injury (and) punitive damages.”
Doughty, a Gamecock from 2003 to 2006, was seriously injured twice while at South Carolina, leading to a spinal injury that eventually cut short his football career, the lawsuit alleges. Once, during a practice in 2004, he experienced temporary paralysis and a persistent tingling feeling in his arms and neck after colliding with a teammate, according to the lawsuit. In 2005, during a game against Tennessee, Doughty was again momentarily paralyzed after a collision and then returned to the field after a five-minute rest in the locker room that did not include MRI testing, according to the lawsuit.
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“The NCAA has breached its duty to protect college football players in the face of long-standing and overwhelming evidence regarding the need to do so. The NCAA has ignored this duty and profited immensely from its inaction and denial, all to the detriment of the players,” the lawsuit reads.
The suit was field by John Nichols, of Columbia law firm Bluestein, Nichols, Thompson and Delgado, and Chris Hellums of Pittman Dutton and Hellums in Birmingham, Ala. Neither Nichols nor Hellums immediately returned telephone calls seeking comment on the case. Doughty could not be reached for comment.
Doughty was an all-state defensive lineman at St. Helena Central High School in Greensburg, La., who signed with South Carolina in 2003. After a redshirt season, he had 11 tackles as a freshman in 2004 and started nine games and recorded 24 tackles as a sophomore in 2005. After his junior year, Doughty decided to surrender his final year of eligibility to enter the NFL Draft.
Doughty went undrafted but was signed to a free agent contract by the Kansas City Chiefs. It was the Chiefs doctors, the lawsuit alleges, who told Doughty he could no longer safely play football and would not be allowed to stay with the team.
Doughty was featured in The Atlantic magazine in May in an article titled, “'I Trusted 'Em': When NCAA Schools Abandon Their Injured Athletes.” The article outlined Doughty’s brief tenure with the Chiefs and his assertion that he returned to South Carolina in hopes of having medical expenses covered only to have his phone calls stopped being returned and re-entrance to the school denied.
“South Carolina's lawyer has declined to comment on the school's handling of Doughty's football injuries. Team doctor Jeffrey Guy had this to say: ‘At the end of the day, we take very good care of our athletes. We don't send them out and say we're not going to take care of you anymore,’ ” the Atlantic article stated.