Former TCU wide receiver Kolby Listenbee has filed a lawsuit in Dallas County civil court against TCU coach Gary Patterson, the university and the Big 12 Conference, alleging a pattern of abuse and harassment.
He is seeking damages in excess of $1 million.
Listenbee was injured during a touchdown reception against SMU in September 2015 during his senior season. He alleges that Patterson, former offensive coordinator Doug Meacham and other coaches “continually harassed, humiliated, pressured and threatened” Listenbee after his injury diagnosis in an effort to “force Listenbee to return to play quickly.”
TCU officials released a statement on the lawsuit but declined to comment on the specifics.
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“TCU takes tremendous pride in its long-standing tradition of excellence in providing a positive experience for its student-athletes, especially in the areas of care, prevention and rehabilitation of athletic injuries,” it said.
Listenbee was selected in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills, but was released a year later without playing in a game. He spent time on the practice squad of the Miami Dolphins and Indianapolis Colts at the end of the 2017 season. On Jan. 1 of this year, the Colts signed him to a reserve/futures contract, which is not guaranteed.
Listenbee, a 2012 graduate of Arlington Bowie, could not be reached for comment.
Listenbee alleges that the injury against SMU damaged the cartilage that holds the pelvic bones together, and that after he was pressured to return to the field before he fully recovered. He says he was diagnosed with pelvic instability, which “requires a minimum of six months of rest and rehabilitation,” according to the lawsuit.
Rather than letting him recover, Listenbee alleges TCU’s training staff “routinely injected him with pain and steroidal medications to make it possible for him to endure the pain of the injury while playing.”
Listenbee asserts that the “injection of steroids and pain medication, lack of rest due to harassment and abuse from the coaching staff, and strenuous play of football caused” damage to his pelvic cartilage to the point where a metal plate had to be inserted to fuse the bones. The lawsuit claims this ended Listenbee’s chances at the “NFL career he would have had.”
The lawsuit also claims the Big 12 failed to review TCU’s compliance with NCAA rules and policies.
Listenbee missed two games in 2015, a season in which 25 players missed some time with an injury. The Horned Frogs finished 11-2 and ranked seventh after defeating Oregon in triple overtime in the Alamo Bowl.
Despite the injury, Listenbee was named all-Big 12 honorable mention. He finished with 30 catches for 597 yards and five touchdowns. That spring, he competed for TCU’s track team in the NCAA 100-meter championship.
Listenbee was a three-star athlete in high school, where he excelled as a quarterback and all-purpose athlete. He chose the Frogs over Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Texas A&M.
In 2010, then-team physician Samuel Haraldson told American Medical News that he was “verbally accosted” by Patterson after he refused to allow running back Ed Wesley to re-enter a game against SMU after he sustained a head injury that Haraldson diagnosed as a concussion.
“Any loss of consciousness is automatically considered a concussion,” Haraldson told the publication. “He had an unsteady gait and a few memory problems. Then five or six plays later, I literally was verbally accosted by the coach, screaming at me insanely at the top of his lungs that he doesn’t think [Wesley] has a concussion and what right do I have to hold him out.”
The game was televised by ESPN and the exchange between Patterson and Haraldson was shown live.
The following week Patterson was asked about Wesley’s availability for the coming game. He said: “He’s fine. As far as I’m concerned he was fine 10 minutes after he got hurt. But, it was good that we protected him.”
Haraldson later issued a statement downplaying the incident, saying, “TCU takes tremendous pride in the care it provides its student-athletes. Coach Patterson wasn’t aware of the full details of the incident, and I take responsibility for that. We sat down and talked it over, and it’s all been worked out. I apologized to Coach Patterson, and he apologized to me.”