A motion was filed on Wednesday to dismiss the federal lawsuit of an Ole Miss player who was dismissed from the team after alleging that the school and football head coach Lane Kiffin ignored issues involving his mental health.
Ole Miss defensive lineman DeSanto Rollins is seeking $40 million in damages.
What Ole Miss and Lane Kiffin’s Lawyers Argue
Lawyers for Kiffin and the school filed the motion as they provided evidence as to why they felt that the dismissal of Rollins was justified.
Rollins, who is black, alleges that he was denied his 14th Amendment right to equal protection. The argument made by the lawyers of Ole Miss and Kiffin is that an individual, Kiffin, can’t be the target of the allegation as an individual.
Another key piece is Rollins alleges in the lawsuit that there has been a white football player, white female softball players, and female volleyball players who did not receive any punishments for taking mental breaks. The attorneys of the school and Kiffin argue that the claim that Rollins’ Title IX rights were violated should be dismissed. Their reasoning is he “may not seek reputational or emotional distress damages for his claims under Title IV, Title IX, and the Rehab Act.”
One other argument is that this lawsuit can’t be pursued in federal court because of the Mississippi Tort Claims Act. According to the Institute of Justice website, the act can have someone “sue a Mississippi government entity and its employees for actions committed within the scope of employment.”
Timeline Before Lawsuit
According to legal documents, Rollins alleges he was starting to suffer from depression, anxiety, and related symptoms after suffering two different injuries back in July and August of 2022. Rollins also alleges that defensive line coach Randall Joyner encouraged him to transfer to another school as he would not be getting playing time at Ole Miss.
Back in February, an alleged meeting happened between Rollins and Kiffin that had Kiffin inform Rollins that he was being moved to the scout team as an offensive lineman. Rollins was allegedly questioning the decision, with Kiffin telling him he was the head coach and if he didn’t like it that, he should quit the team. This was when Rollins made the decision to take a mental break.
After meeting with the university’s Assistant Athletic Director of Sports Psychology shortly afterward, it took two weeks for Rollins and Kiffin to meet despite Kiffin asking Rollins to meet with him on March 7. On March 21, the two finally met, with Kiffin yelling at Rollins and dismissing the team.
Their conversation was transcribed in the lawsuit with a heated exchange coming from Kiffin as he yelled at Rollins regarding him not initially meeting with Kiffin earlier.
“You have a f—ing head coach. This is a job. Guess what? If I have mental issues and I’m not diminishing them, I can’t not see my f—ing boss, when you were told again and again the head coach needs to see you.”
Rollins has not appeared in a game this season for Ole Miss as both sides wait to hear the motion to dismiss the lawsuit.