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University settles $14.1 million lawsuit after student athlete died during 'punishment practice'

University settles $14.1 million lawsuit after student athlete died during 'punishment practice'

The University of Cumberlands has reached a settlement agreement with the family of a student wrestler who died of heat stroke.

The University of the Cumberlands has reached a settlement agreement with the family of a student wrestler who died of heatstroke after a 'punishment practice'.

On 31 August, 2020, 20-year-old student Grant Brace passed away after he took part in a wrestling training session at the University of the Cumberlands Kentucky's training grounds.

Brace's death was ruled as having occurred as a result of 'exertional heatstroke' - with a video later emerging of the student desperately trying to find a source of water after the session.

An autopsy ruled the 20-year-old's death as having been preventable.

Last week, Brace's family and the University of the Cumberlands reached a $14.1 million (£11 million) settlement and revealed details of the agreement.

Grant Brace passed away last year at the age of 20 from heat stroke.
Facebook/ BRACE Heat Related Injury Protocol

The Brace family's lawsuit claimed the 20-year-old student's wrestling team had been forced to train in 84-degree weather, and ordered by coaches to sprint up and down a hill nicknamed 'punishment hill'.

It also claimed that when the student tried to opt out of the training, he was told he would be kicked off the team.

The lawsuit alleged that the team wasn't provided with water and coaches 'ignored Grant's deteriorating medical condition,' as per CNN.

Another member of the wrestling team also claimed this in an interview with Good Morning America.

Alex Myers said: "It was absolutely horrible. Nobody really had any water at all left in their water bottles and we were not allowed to go back into the [locker] room until the end of punishment."

One of Brace's teammates also spoke out against the alleged conditions they had to perform in.
Twitter/ @GMA

In response to reaching a settlement, Chancellor Jerry Jackson of the University of the Cumberlands, said in a press release: "Grant was a talented, well liked young man entering his junior year with a bright future ahead of him. Our University community continues to mourn his untimely loss.

"We sincerely hope that resolving this matter early in the legal process will offer the Brace family a measure of peace and healing.

"The University made the decision to settle the case now in a manner it hopes will respect the Brace family’s tremendous loss."

Upon agreeing to the $14.1 million settlement, the family's attorney said that the university is also required to implement a heat-illness training programme called the 'B.R.A.C.E Protocol'.

The protocol will educate 'coaches and athletes about exertional heat strokes in order to prevent further heat related deaths'.

In response to the University of the Cumberlands agreeing to the settlement, Brace's family posted a statement on Facebook.

The university will also have to take part in a heat-illness training programme as part of the settlement deal.
Facebook/ BRACE Heat Related Injury Protocol

It read: "The civil lawsuit has been resolved and we rejected the University’s multiple attempts to make the settlement secret and confidential. We will never be silenced.

"We truly believe Grant’s story can have a tremendous impact on future heat stroke awareness, education, policies, protocols and advocacy. There are still many unanswered questions, but for the first time, we as a family are finally able to begin to share a glimpse into our tragic story.

"By doing so we aim to bring awareness to the dangers of heat illness in athletics. With appropriate education, it should never take another precious life."

UNILAD has contacted the University of the Cumberlands for comment.

If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence, contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677

Featured Image Credit: Good Morning America

Topics: Health, Sport, US News