Former University of Virginia football player Aidan Howard has sued the University and others, alleging he was severely injured in a hazing-related incident during fall camp in August.
Doug Doughty of the Roanoke Times tweeted a story on Wednesday evening.
CourthouseNews.com was first with the information.
In a lawsuit filed in federal court, Howard alleges that he was teased and bullied by upperclassmen wide receivers Doni Dowling and David Eldridge because of Howard’s “soft-spoken and mild-mannered nature.” Diagnosed with a learning disability, Howard alleges Dowling and Eldridge, who knew of this diagnosis, would call him “‘stupid,’ ‘dumb,’ ‘slow,’ and ‘retarded’” in front of Howard and some of the Virginia coaches.
After a practice in August, the complaint alleges that Howard was forced to fight another first-year wide receiver, Hasise Dubois, as part of his “initiation.” The complaint alleges that Dowling and Eldridge marked off a “ring” using athletic tape and used flashing lights, loud music, and announcements to simulate a “prize fight.”
Howard claims that, among the 105 individuals present was graduate assistant coach Famika Anae—the son of offensive coordinator Robert Anae—and that Famika Anae shouted at other players to put away their phones and not record the fight. According to the complaint, Howard suffered a broken orbital bone and underwent surgery in late September.
Howard’s lawsuit names the University, President Teresa Sullivan, athletic director Craig Littlepage, wide receivers coach Marques Hagans, Famika Anae, Dowling, and Eldridge as defendants. None of the defendants has filed a reply in court.
University spokesperson Anthony P. de Bruyn responded to our request for comment with the following:
The University is aware of Mr. Howard’s allegations and has made all of the required external notifications in accordance with state law. The University has been actively investigating these reports consistent with its obligations under the law and University policy. The University does not comment on ongoing litigation and will not make any further statements regarding this case.
Howard’s full complaint is below.