A former University of Arizona track athlete has filed a $3 million lawsuit against the university, claiming that it turned a blind eye toward bullying. Filed in federal court, the lawsuit named the Arizona Board of Regents as well as students and coaches in the track and field program as defendants.
Specifically, plaintiff Michael Grabowski claimed that the bullying began at a team training camp before the start of his freshman year in 2017-18. Early on, Grabowski suffered a knee injury. While speaking with the associate head coach James Li about the injury, Grabowski’s father raised concerns about bullying, according to the plaintiff’s Tucson-based attorney William G. Walker. The attorney further claimed that Grabowski was bullied “almost daily” throughout the season, pointing to “the two top runners on the team” as perpetrators. Grabowski was ultimately dismissed from the team, at which point he raised the bullying he suffered by team members to the head coach. The plaintiff alleged that the coach then pinned him to a chair and called him a racist and liar, while using expletives, according to the complaint.
The university answered the lawsuit, claiming they are “unsubstantiated allegations.” Furthermore, it said in a statement that “there is a distinct disparity between the allegations in the lawsuit and the concerns raised (by the plaintiff) last fall.”