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Ole Miss defensive tackle DeSanto Rollins has filed a federal lawsuit against head football coach Lane Kiffin and the university claiming he was kicked off the team during a “mental health crisis” while also alleging his race played a role in the situation. The junior from Baton Rouge, Louisiana is demanding $10 million in compensatory damages and another $30 million in punitive damages.
According to the lawsuit filed in federal court in Oxford, Miss., Rollins alleges that Kiffin took adverse actions against him “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. The lawsuit also alleges sexual discrimination, claiming that the school hasn’t taken adverse action against female student-athletes who request to take mental health breaks.
The lawsuit explains that Rollins has suffered many injuries throughout his career with the Rebels including a concussion in the spring of 2022 and an Achilles injury in July. The suit claims he suffered “suffered severe depression, anxiety, frustration, embarrassment, humiliation, a loss of sleep and loss of appetite” from Achilles injury.
According to the lawsuit, nobody within the Ole Miss athletic department provided Rollins with materials about mental health. He returned to practice in August, but re-aggravated a knee injury and suffered from “severe depression.”
On November 28, 2022, four days after Ole Miss’ regular-season finale against Mississippi State, Rollins claims to have had a meeting with the defensive line coach who tried to persuade him to enter the transfer portal. He elected not to.
Ole Miss Football Player Records Alleged Meeting With Lane Kiffin
Fast forward to February 27, 2023, and Rollins claims to have met with Kiffin who told him he’d be moving from defensive tackle to the scout team’s offensive line after choosing not to enter the portal. Rollins alleged that Kiffin told him “if he didn’t like it then he should quit,” which led the Louisiana native to take “a mental break.”
Rollins didn’t meet with Kiffin again until March 21, according to the suit, and decided to record the conversation he had with the head coach that day.
ESPN says it has heard the audio recording, but wasn’t able to independently verify it.
“Ok, 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,” Kiffin said, according to the lawsuit and the audio recording. “When you were told again and again the head coach needs to see you, wasn’t to make you practice, wasn’t to play a position you don’t f—ing want to, ok? It was to talk to you and explain to you in the real world, ok? So I don’t give a f— what your mom say, ok. Or what you think in the real f—ing world, you show up to work, and then you say, ‘Hey, I have mental issues. I can’t do anything for two weeks, but if you change my position I won’t have mental issues.’
“I guarantee if we f—ing called you in and said you’re playing defense, would you have mental issues?”
“I definitely would,” Rollins said.
During the audio exchange, Rollins is heard saying, “I mean, you’re acting like my issues aren’t real.”
“I didn’t say they’re not real,” Kiffin responded. “You show up when your head — when your boss wants to meet with you. It wouldn’t have been like this. If you would’ve come here when you kept getting messages the head coach wants to talk to you, you say ‘I’m not ready to talk to him.'”
“I wasn’t,” Rollins said.
“What f—ing world do you live in?” Kiffin asked.
“I don’t see why you have to be disrespectful, honestly,” Rollins said.
“Get out of here,” Kiffin said. “Go, 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. When the head coach asks to meet with you and you don’t show up for weeks, we can remove you from the team.
“It’s called being a p—y,” Kiffin said. “It’s called hiding behind s— and not showing up to work.”
Ole Miss Denies Receiving Lawsuit From DeSanto Rollins
The lawsuit alleges that Rollins has suffered “physical pain and emotional distress and anguish.” It cites the Americans with Disabilities Act, alleging that Rollins was kicked off the football team because of his disability, which it states was a “mental impairment.”
Ole Miss released a statement on Thursday night that it has not received a lawsuit. It also states and that Rollins 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,” the statement read in part.
Rollins is still listed on the team’s official roster at the time of this writing.