CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Virginia coaches had little to say Saturday about a lawsuit filed this week in which a former player alleges he was bullied and harassed by teammates because of a learning disability and seriously injured when forced to fight another teammate.
Aidan Howard's lawsuit was filed in a Pennsylvania federal court this week.
"I love running a fantastic football program in every regard. And every means every," first-year coach Bronco Mendenhall, who is not named in the lawsuit, said after Virginia's 35-14 loss to No. 22 North Carolina . "I love the young men that I coach and they know that. The investigation is ongoing and the University policy is that I'm not to speak regarding any of that while the investigation is ongoing."
The lawsuit names six defendants, including university president Teresa A. Sullivan, athletic director Craig Littlepage, wide receivers coach Marques Hagans, graduate assistant Famika Anae and wide receivers Doni Dowling and David Eldridge.
Offensive coordinator Robert Anae, Famika's father, said the lawsuit "came out of nowhere and it kind of blindsided all of us. We did look at that as a distraction. We had to handle it as such and we'll continue to handle that as a distraction."
He declined further comment, saying he would let the legal system take its course.
In the lawsuit, Howard claims he was injured in a fight with Hasise Dubois instigated by Dowling and Eldridge as part of his initiation. Howard suffered a broken eye socket in the fight, witnessed by the younger Anae and about 100 others, according to the complaint.