Former Western Michigan linebacker Brook Higgins has filed a discrimination lawsuit against the school after his dismissal from the team in 2013.
Higgins was accepted onto the WMU football team as a preferred walk-on under former coach Bill Cubit in August 2012 after finishing 16 credit hours at Kalamazoo Valley Community College.
According to the lawsuit, Higgins was registered with the NCAA disabilities department and WMU's Disability Services for Students. He was diagnosed with learning disabilities, central auditory processing disorder and anxiety disorder before arriving on campus.
After Higgins suffered a knee injury in the 2012 season, Cubit suggested that the linebacker take a medical leave to "keep his grades up so he could return in the fall." However, after Cubit was fired on Nov. 17, 2012 there were communication issues between Higgins and the new coaching staff.
Higgins alleges that he did not receive a text message notifying him of the first team meeting, which he missed. The lawsuit states that a few weeks later, Higgins became sick early in the morning and would not be able to attend a team workout, so he sent a text message to the phone number he was given for the squad leader.
Higgins claims he was provided the wrong number and the appropriate people were not notified, and therefore he was ruled a no-show at role call for the workout he missed.
He alleges that same day, WMU linebacker coach Tim McGarigle called him and told him he was kicked off the team. Higgins states that when he offered to show McGarigle the text message he sent to the wrong number, McGarigle responded, "You are lying."
The lawsuit claims that when Higgins and his parents, Barbara and Neal, spoke with McGarigle at a later time the coach said, "I didn't know about his disability. If I had it would have made a difference. We don't know you like coach Cubit. I had to let a lot of guys go. ... Maybe they all have disabilities."
In the suit, Higgins is claiming the university violated Title II of the Americans and Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act in dismissing him from the team. He is seeking $75,000 in damages and "relief as well as an order to keep WMU from committing further acts of discrimination or retaliation."