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Ole Miss defensive tackle DeSanto Rollins has filed a $10 million lawsuit against the university and head coach Lane Kiffin on Thursday “for failure to provide equal protection, racial and sexual discrimination, and multiple other allegations,” per ESPN’s Heather Dinich.
Rollins, who reportedly said he was recently kicked off the team for missing practices and meetings during a “mental health crisis,” is also seeking $30 million in punitive damages.
According to Dinich, the lawsuit alleges that Kiffin took “adverse action” against Rollins “on account of race for requesting and taking a mental health break, but not taking adverse action against white student-athletes” for similar requests. It also alleges sexual discrimination on the basis that the university has not taken “adverse action against female student-athletes for requesting and taking a mental health break.”
Kiffin declined to comment on the matter. The university released a statement through a spokesperson that read: “We have not received a lawsuit. DeSanto 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.”
Rollins is a backup defensive lineman who has missed significant time due to multiple injuries throughout his career, including a concussion in the spring of 2022 and an injury to his Achilles tendon in his right foot in July of that same year. The redshirt junior said in his lawsuit that he “suffered severe depression, anxiety, frustration, embarrassment, humiliation, a loss of sleep and loss of appetite” from the latter injury.
During a meeting with Kiffin this past February, Rollins said he was informed of the coaching staff’s intentions to move him to the scout team’s offensive line because he wouldn’t transfer. Rollins alleged that Kiffin told him “if he didn’t like it then he should quit.” At that point, he told Kiffin he was going to take “a mental health break.”
Rollins had multiple sessions with the school’s assistant athletic director for sport psychology and didn’t meet with Kiffin again until late March despite “repeated requests” from the football staff. Dinich noted that during the meeting, “Rollins legally recorded Kiffin without his knowledge, and a copy of the transcript was included in the lawsuit.”
In addition to allegedly questioning the validity of Rollins’ need for a mental health break, the transcript quotes Kiffin kicking him off the team with some other disparaging remarks:
“Get out of here. 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–king 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. It’s called hiding behind s–t and not showing up to work.”
Rollins is an honor roll student who is expected to graduate in December with a business degree. He declined a request to comment on the lawsuit but told ESPN, “I love Ole Miss, but they do not love me.”
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