Legalese can be a little dry and boring a lot of the time. Not in this instance involving Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin chewing out defensive lineman DeSanto Rollins.
As reported by Front Office Sports, Kiffin was livid with Rollins for not meeting with the coach and threatened to kick him out of the Rebels program. The explosive audio below, combined with the fact that Rollins filed a $40 million lawsuit, means his current scholarship status is in very real jeopardy.
In a motion filed Wednesday, lawyers for Lane Kiffin and Ole Miss laid out reasons why the lawsuit filed by a Rebels player should be dismissed.
DeSanto Rollins, still on scholarship, alleges Kiffin “ignored” indications he suffered from depression.https://t.co/vOD5SaNcgV
Mental health isn’t something to be downplayed or joked about. However, there is a fine line between taking a break if you need it and pretty much ghosting your head football coach for multiple weeks. That’s essentially what Rollins did.
Here’s a fuller quote from Kiffin to Rollins:
“Go read your f*cking rights about mental health, we can kick you off the team for not showing up. When the head coach asks to meet with you, and you don’t show up for weeks? OK we can remove you from the team.
It’s called being a p**sy. It’s called hiding behind sh*t and not showing up for work.”
In the lawsuit, Rollins claims to have been depressed due to the way Kiffin treated him. Ole Miss’ coaching staff alleged disregarded injuries Rollins was dealing with last season. Kiffin allegedly forced Rollins to play through severe pain and keep practicing on a bad knee.
While those seem like valid (if difficult to prove) issues to raise, Rollins also asserts that student-athletes who’d taken mental health breaks in other sports weren’t punished or chewed out for it like he was. Rollins is trying to argue in the lawsuit that he was racially discriminated against.
Not to downplay that issue as a whole either, but it’s really challenging to figure out how Rollins would have a legitimate argument there. Save for one white football player, the other athletes referred to in the lawsuit as “similarly situated individuals” were female volleyball and softball players. They obviously aren’t coached by Kiffin.
My take? Sorry but I’m going to side with Kiffin and the school here despite being a predominantly pro-player/student-athlete kinda guy.
Could Kiffin have been way less of a jerk? Yes. Should Rollins have made a better effort to make contact and arrange a meeting with him? Yes, but he’s also a young man in his 20s, has some obvious maturing to do, evidently didn’t feel like his voice was being heard throughout this whole saga, and therefore, probably wasn’t going to be a masterful communicator. And he was allegedly depressed.
I’m sure some will say Lane Kiffin was wrong here, but in what world can you just ghost your boss, coach etc? He wasn’t even saying the kid couldn’t have time away for a bit, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to text the head coach back. https://t.co/x7v6w60CzO
It is a bit of an institutional letdown on Ole Miss’ part and a bad look on Kiffin for failing the player to some degree. I can empathize with Rollins on that front. At the same time, if we’re looking at this from a purely legal, objective standpoint, it sure feels like Rollins doesn’t have a leg to stand on. I mean, $40 million in total damages? That’s wild to me. For this? No way, right?
Kiffin and Ole Miss have motioned to dismiss Rollins’ lawsuit. Sure feels like that’s where this is headed. In the end, I hope DeSanto Rollins gets his problems figured out. Kind of a bummer to see a young man feel helpless.
But… And… I don’t think it’s a situation where the law can necessarily help him.