In the lawsuit filed Wednesday by former TCU wide receiver Kolby Listenbee against the university, head football coach Gary Patterson and the Big 12 Conference, he cited a pattern of harassment and abuse.
Listenbee claims in the lawsuit that he “faced tremendous pressure to return to play despite his pain and his condition.” These pressures came directly and indirectly from defendants Patterson and members of Patterson’s coaching staff at the time.
His senior year, Listenbee sustained an injury while making a touchdown catch against SMU on Sept. 19, 2015. The injury was to his pelvis and was diagnosed as osteitis pubis, according to the lawsuit, leading to a pattern of coaches harassment and threats to return to action and accusations of “faking” the injury.
Here are some claims in the lawsuit:
▪ After the game and for the next two weeks, Defendants Patterson, [Doug] Meacham and [Rusty] Burns continually harassed, humiliated, pressured and threatened Kolby to return to play. On numerous occasions, the aforementioned Defendants made fun of Kolby’s injury by telling him, in front of the entire team, that Kolby was “faking it” and that he was “soft.”
▪ A few days prior to the October 3, 2015 game versus the University of Texas Longhorns, Defendant Patterson told Kolby that if TCU was to lose to Texas then Kolby would not only be dismissed from the TCU football team, but also from TCU itself.
▪ On the way to the September 26, 2015 game against Texas Tech University, Defendant Patterson forced Kolby to sit in a different airplane seat than the one Kolby typically sits. The football team allowed starting seniors to sit in the first class section while the remainder of the team had to sit in coach class. Defendant Patterson forced Kolby to switch seats with the third string quarterback and sit in coach class. The humiliating incident occurred in front of the entire team.
▪ On Oct. 8, 2015, Defendant Patterson purposely told news reporters that he believed the football team was actually better with Kolby was not playing. Kolby took this as an affront to his abilities and even more pressure to attempt to return to play despite not being ready.
▪ Most importantly to Kolby, Defendants Patterson, Meacham and Burns informed Kolby that if he did not return to play soon then they would begin to tell NFL scouts that he was not tough enough for the professional level and/or he was faking his injury.
▪ Consequently, Kolby also believed his professional career would be at risk if he was unable to continue playing at TCU.
▪ Due to this pressure and relying on Defendants Patterson, [David] Gable, [Zach] LaCross, [Dillon] Smith, Meacham and Burns’ assurances that he was clear to play, Kolby returned to the football field before he was fully healed.
▪ The continuous injections numbed Kolby’s pain in his pelvic area allowing him to practice with the team and take the field each Saturday for games. Without his knowledge, the injections, specifically, the corticosteroids, were deteriorating Kolby’s cartilage, muscles and the entire infrastructure of his pelvis.
The lawsuit claims the defendants’ “breaches of duty were with conscious indifference, malicious, fraudulent, willful, reckless and/or wanton.”
It claims the defendants’ “actions and/or omissions proximately caused injury to Plaintiff, which resulted in [Plaintiff] suffering past and future lost wages and/or loss of earning capacity, past and future pain and suffering, past and future mental anguish, past and future physical disfigurement, past and future physical impairment, and past and future aggravation of preexisting condition.”
Listenbee was selected by the Buffalo Bills in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. He never played a game, alleging in the lawsuit that the pelvic injury prevented him from playing. He had practice squad stints with Miami and Indianapolis.