Attorneys on behalf of Ole Miss defensive tackle DeSanto Rollins filed a memorandum in district court Tuesday asking the court to deny a motion to dismiss a lawsuit Rollins filed against coach Lane Kiffin and the university.
In mid-September, Rollins said he was kicked off the team for missing practices and meetings during a “mental health crisis.” He filed a lawsuit against Kiffin and the university for failure to provide equal protection, racial and sexual discrimination, and multiple other allegations.
Rollins, a backup lineman whose career has been marred by injuries, is seeking $10 million in compensatory damages and $30 million in punitive damages. The lawsuit alleges that Kiffin intentionally took adverse action against Rollins “on account of race for requesting and taking a mental health break, but not taking adverse action against white student-athletes” for the same request. It alleges sexual discrimination on the basis that Ole Miss has not taken “adverse action against female student-athletes for requesting and taking a mental health break.”
The 26-page legal document filed Tuesday rebutted the motion to dismiss point by point.
“The court should consider the allegations of Rollins’ complaint as true,” the memorandum said. “Almost all of those allegations are undisputed. Kiffin and the University dispute only one allegation — that Kiffin kicked Rollins off the football team. … However, Rollins has submitted a declaration … detailing contradictory evidence. That evidence must be construed in the light most favorable to Rollins.”
On March 21, Rollins legally recorded a meeting with Kiffin without the coach’s knowledge, and a copy of the transcript was included in the lawsuit. ESPN obtained a copy of the audio in September.
In it, Kiffin can be heard saying, “you’re off the team. You’re done. See ya. Go. And guess what? We can kick you off the team. So go read your f—ing rights about mental health. We can kick you off the team for not showing up.”
According to the memorandum, Rollins has not been able to participate in any football activities, including meetings, meals, media events, community service events, travel, games, watching film, receive gear, practice or participate in Senior Day.
Tuesday’s memorandum stated that “all of Kiffin’s actions and inactions were intentional, deliberate, malicious, grossly negligent and taken in reckless disregard for the rights and mental health of Rollins.”
Kiffin declined to comment when reached by ESPN, deferring to the university’s original statement. A school spokesperson also referred ESPN to the university’s only statement on the matter, which read, “DeSanto was never removed from the football team and remains on scholarship. In addition, he continues to have the opportunity to receive all of the resources and advantages that are afforded a student-athlete at the university.”
Earlier this month, attorneys for Kiffin and Ole Miss filed a written brief in support of Kiffin that argued that the coach and university “are immune” from some of Rollins’ claims and that his “remaining allegations fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.”