Former UW football player accuses staff of ‘medical negligence’

Mar 1, 2024, 11:01 AM | Updated: Mar 2, 2024, 10:09 am

UW Megwa...

Former UW football player Emeka Megwa. (Photo: Stritmatter, Kessler, Koehler, Moore)

(Photo: Stritmatter, Kessler, Koehler, Moore)

Former University of Washington football player Emeka Megwa has filed a lawsuit in King County Superior Court, alleging medical negligence by the university in handling his ACL injury and rehabilitation.

This case sheds light on athletes’ well-being and the responsibility of institutions to prioritize their health and recovery.

Emeka Megwa was a running back who played high school football in Fort Worth, Texas. He suffered an ACL injury in high school.

The lawsuit claims that Megwa signed with UW because he says the school assured him that the team could manage his rehabilitation.

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It also said that after Jimmy Lake and his staff left the program after the 2021 season, new staff and trainers ignored the recovery plan. Kalen DeBoer became the new head coach. DeBoer is now the head coach at the University of Alabama. Lake was hired to be the defensive coordinator of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons after working for the Los Angeles Rams in 2023.

Megwa entered the transfer portal in 2022 and ended up at the University of Oklahoma but could not play that year. He saw limited action during the 2023 season.

“I hope this will raise awareness about how student-athletes should be treated during recovery,” Megwa said in a statement. “We deserve to have the right people making the right decisions and not be treated as if we are expendable.”

The lawsuit alleges that the team pushed Megwa in workouts beyond the limits of his recovery. He said he was given painkillers.

According to the lawsuit, in early January 2022, despite not having medical clearance to participate in team activities, UW coaches instructed Megwa to participate in a team run and lift.

When Megwa felt new pain in his leg, the lawsuit said that instead of sending him to team doctors, the team “gave him new tennis shoes.”

By March, team doctors said Mewa had another ACL tear and could not practice.

“Where a student-athlete has a major surgery, surgeons should say what the athlete is ready to do—not trainers or coaches,” Andrew Ackley, Megwa’s attorney, said in a statement. “This was not a risk-of-football injury. It was a totally preventable reinjury if they had just followed medical advice.”

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The lawsuit also said, “UW coaches repeatedly berated and ridiculed (Megwa) in front of the team because he could not fully participate in workouts.”

The lawsuit is seeking damages, attorney fees, and future medical payments.

UW has not yet commented on the suit.

Bill Kaczaraba is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read his stories here. Follow Bill on X, formerly known as Twitter, here and email him here.

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Former UW football player accuses staff of ‘medical negligence’