The attorney for an Ole Miss football player who’s suing the school and its head football coach, Lane Kiffin, filed electronic communications to bolster the arguments against their case’s dismissal.
The messages, which were filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi on Friday, stem from communications after DeSanto Rollins had what he says was his first contentious meeting with Kiffin, on Feb. 27, and they appeared to show outreach by Rollins and his mother to staff over mental health concerns.
The supplemental filings included text messages between Rollins and Nick Savage, Ole Miss’s head football strength and conditioning coach.
“Hey coach, I decided it was best for me to take a mental break from everything and resume after I meet with my doctor and get everything in line,” Rollins texted Savage.
Savage responded: “I am so sorry to hear you have been going through it!!! You doing ok?
Anything we can do to help!?”
Messages left with lawyers representing Ole Miss and Kiffin were not immediately returned.
In another text exchange filed in court, Rollins’s mother messaged Pat Jernigan, Ole Miss’s assistant A.D. for sports medicine and head football athletic trainer.
“I feel that my son DeSanto is going through a mental health crises [sic],” Rollins’s mother wrote on Feb. 27. “Anxiety, depression, and bouts of crying. Please see that he speak with a counselor and I will have him monitored as well.”
Jernigan responded: “I will talk with him today.”
That text preceded a March 21 meeting between Kiffin and Rollins, audio of which was first published by FOS last month.
The latest filings by Rollins push back against the perception that he severed contact with the Ole Miss athletics staff as he avoided meeting with Kiffin directly for a period of time, according to court documents previously filed in the case.
“You have a f—ing head coach,” Kiffin said during the meeting. “This is a job. Guess what? If I have mental issues — and I’m not diminishing them — I can’t not see my f—ing boss, when you were told again and again the head coach needs to see you.”
The supplemental filings from Rollins’s attorney, Carroll Edward Rhodes, come after Ole Miss and Kiffin disclosed communications earlier this week to strengthen its motion to dismiss.
One of Ole Miss’s filings on Tuesday included a text from Kiffin to Rollins on March 24.
“Ok since you continue to never respond to any of my calls or texts just take as long as you want/need to do whatever you want to do,” Kiffin wrote. “We will support whatever you want to do. I have never in my 25 year career had a player that just doesn’t respond or communicate with me as their coach but that’s fine. Whatever you think is best.”
Rollins told Kiffin he “cannot respond directly to you any more” in a text that included Rhodes’s contact information.
Rollins, who’s still on scholarship at Ole Miss, sued Ole Miss in September. In the civil complaint that seeks up to $40 million in damages, he alleged Kiffin “ignored” signs he was suffering from depression following multiple injuries and the death of his grandmother.
A stay was issued in the case, and no future hearings have been scheduled.