Details of alleged abuse involving five former TCU football players have been added to a lawsuit accusing TCU football coach Gary Patterson and the university of a pattern of verbal abuse and a pressure to play despite serious injuries.
In a filing Wednesday, former receiver Kolby Listenbee added the stories of Lonta Hobbs, Ed Wesley, David Johnson, Stansly Maponga and Cameron White to his lawsuit against Patterson, TCU and former athletic director Chris Del Conte.
Listenbee claims there was a pattern of "systematic misconduct" at TCU before he enrolled there in 2012 out of Arlington Bowie.
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The lawsuit, filed in Dallas County on Jan. 31, alleges that TCU football coaches prefer to "keep the diagnosing and treating of their players 'in house' with the TCU team physicians," according to the update. It alleges that TCU coaches believe the team physicians are easily manipulated to clear players for action when "an outside physician could not be swayed as easily."
"This is evidenced by TCU’s lack of an orthopedic physician on staff nor any radiology equipment on campus — unlike other top tier schools across the nation that have the resources TCU has," the lawsuit states. "The systematic scheme allows injured players to receive subpar treatment for their serious injuries, gives the coaches premature return-to-play decision when serious injury or harm could be caused, and creates an inherent conflict of interest."
TCU declined to comment on the new allegations.
The lawsuit, which is seeking at least $1 million in damages for Listenbee, alleges that Patterson and his staff "harassed, abused and humiliated many injured football players" in hopes that they would be pressured to return to the field before being fully healed.
Among the new allegations:
In 2002, former TCU running back Lonta Hobbs was involved in a car accident in which he suffered a concussion and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. The TCU coaching and training staff persuaded Hobbs to return to Fort Worth from his hometown to obtain medical treatment. However, the lawsuit claims, Hobbs was never referred to a psychiatrist or radiologist. For the two months after the accident, Hobbs was "belligerent" and emotionally unstable. Despite showing signs of this instability, Hobbs was informed that his job would be given to a freshman if he did not return. Hobbs' premature return caused additional emotional instability and "physical unbalance."
In 2010, former TCU running back Ed Wesley was concussed in a game against SMU. Then team physician Dr. Samuel Haraldson refused to allow Wesley to return to the game because of the concussion. "Any loss of consciousness is automatically considered a concussion," Haraldson said to the media about Wesley’s incident. "He had an unsteady gait and a few memory problems." The suit claims that Patterson "verbally accosted" Haraldson for not clearing Wesley to return to play. Later, Patterson told the Star-Telegram of Wesley: "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." The lawsuit claims the incident reveals Patterson’s insistence that players return to play despite their serious injuries. "Despite the audacity and publicity of the event, TCU, TCU Board of Trustees, and Del Conte supported Patterson and his actions."
In the 2011 season, former TCU football player David Johnson sprained his ankle. When he expressed concern about not being able to play because of the injury, the position coach stated: "In your career, you will never play at 100 percent. You will always be hurt. And if you can’t do that, we don’t have a place for you here." The player noticed this became a "common thread" at TCU, the lawsuit alleges: "Players being informed by coaches that 'if you don’t play this year, we have no use for you. Future potential means very little, and we may very well not have a spot for you next year if you sit out.' "
After the 2012 season, former TCU star defensive specialist Stansley Maponga was deciding whether to leave TCU and enter the NFL Draft before his senior year season. Patterson made it clear to the entire team that if Maponga left early, Maponga would not be allowed to come back to TCU to complete his degree, would not be allowed to use TCU's facilities to work out, and that NFL scouts and coaches would be informed that Maponga had a poor work ethic and was soft.
- During the 2013 season, former TCU wide receiver Cameron White was concussed in a violent collision during the second game against Southeastern Louisiana. White told the training staff that he didn't feel right. "Despite this information, the TCU trainers, including head trainer David Gable, cleared White to return to play. "Upon information and belief, the TCU trainers were pressured by Patterson to clear known injured players." After the game, TCU officials told White that his concussion was the last one he could suffer before becoming medically disqualified to play football again, the lawsuit alleges. White attempted to transfer to another school near his hometown but was blocked by Patterson, according to Listenbee's lawsuit.
Former assistant coach Doug Meacham, assistant coach Rusty Burns, several trainers, two TCU team doctors, TCU's Board of Trustees and the Big 12 Conference are also named in the suit.