In spite of his learning disability, Tulane University student Brandon Purcell was able to become a kicker on the football team in 2013.Coach Doug Lichtenberger dismissed him from the team in March 2015.When Purcell inquired, Assistant Athletic Director Barbara Burke purportedly said he had been removed from the team because there were too many kickers, even though he had been outperforming the other kickers.Tulane Athletic Director Rick Dickson refused to intervene in the matter.However, Purcell was allowed to train with the team in the summer of 2015 to potentially earn a walk‐on spot for the following season. During that time, Purcell's teammates allegedly verbally abused and threatened him.Head Coach Curtis Johnson removed Purcell from the team in August.Purcell filed a lawsuit asserting several claims against Tulane and others. One was that the behavior of the coaching staff was intended to inflict severe emotional distress.Purcell alleged that Lichtenberger didn't believe he was disabled, required him to prove his disability, and taunted him. He also claimed Lichtenberger's actions prompted teammates to become abusive toward him. Purcell also alleged the other coaches joined in harassing him, yelling at him, and calling him names.The defendants filed a motion to dismiss.Purcell, et al. v. Tulane University of Louisiana, et al., No. 16‐1834 (E.D. La. 05/26/17).Did the student's claim survive the university's motion to dismiss?A. Yes. The court ruled that the coaches' and AD's actions amounted to deliberate indifference to the student's disclosed disability.B. Yes. The judge held that university staff violated the student's rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act.C. No. The court dismissed the lawsuit, holding that student‐athletes are routinely subjected to taunts and insults by their coaches and teammates.D. No. The court held that the coaches' and AD's actions weren't so outrageous as to amount to intentional infliction of emotional distress.Correct answer: D.The district judge explained that a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress must involve conduct so outrageous and extreme that it went beyond all possible bounds of decency, and was regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized community. She emphasized that liability didn't extend to mere insults, indignities, or threats.The judge dismissed the claim, ruling that Purcell had not described conduct that was so severe as to justify a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress.You Make the CallThis regular feature details a recent court case. Review the facts. Think about how you would have handled the situation. Then test your legal knowledge by trying to determine how the court ruled.College Athletics and the Law Board of AdvisorsElizabeth “Betsy” A. Alden, Ph.D.President Emeritus Alden & Associates, Inc.Tricia Turley Brandenburg, M.S.Deputy Director of AthleticsSenior Woman AdministratorTowson UniversityTimothy Neal, M.S., ATCSports Medicine ConsultantTLN ConsultingAssistant ProfessorConcordia University Ann ArborJody Mooradian, J.D.Athletic DirectorSalve Regina UniversityMichael Scarano, Ed.D.Associate Director of Athletics/Director of ComplianceCalifornia Baptist UniversityJohn P. Sullivan, Psy.D.Clinical Sport Psychologist, Applied Sport ScientistFounder/CEO, CSCS ‐ Sport ScienceTroy Tucker, M.S.Athletics DirectorNorthampton Community CollegeMelody A. Werner, Ed.D.Sports Management Professor & Title IX CoordinatorEastern Michigan UniversityMark Wilson, J.D.Managing DirectorHarrison Kent Advisors, LLCMaureen Harty, M.B.A.Associate Director, NCAA
College Athletics and the Law – Wiley
Published: Jan 1, 2018
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