Aidan Howard, a former University of Virginia football player, is suing the school according to ESPN. Howard claims the football program “fostered a culture of bullying, abuse, harassment, and discrimination.” Howard was granted his release from the program in August, a week after he says he was forced to fight another first-year player and suffered a broken eye socket.
One of the people named in the suit is graduate assistant Famika Anae, a former BYU football player and the son of offensive coordinator Robert Anae. Via ESPN:
About 105 people, including Anae, watched the fight, and several other student athletes recorded or tried to record it on their cellphones, but no one attempted to stop it, the suit states. Howard says he heard Anae yell, “No phones,” before the fight began, admonishing players not to record it.
The fight was just one incident. Howard was diagnosed with a learning disability and was in turn bullied by teammates and coaches.
“[They] would question Aidan’s ‘toughness’ and ‘manliness’ and would call him ‘stupid,’ ‘dumb,’ ‘slow,’ and ‘retarded,'” the lawsuit states, alleging that the players would make fun of him because he didn’t comprehend plays and routes as well as his teammates.
The suit also alleges that wide receivers coach Marques Hagans harassed and bullied Howard when he didn’t understand something, which served to encourage similar discriminatory behavior among his teammates. Hagans is named as a defendant in the suit, though Bronco Mendenhall, in his first season as Virginia’s head coach, is not.
Howard transferred to Robert Morris.