Mendenhall: Lawsuit, though expected, still a ‘distraction’ for UVA

bronco mendenhall uva footballThe news last week that a former UVA player was filing suit against two players, two coaches and administrators has been a “distraction” for the team, coach Bronco Mendenhall conceded on Monday.

But it wasn’t one that “came out of nowhere,” as offensive coordinator Robert Anae said following Virginia’s 35-14 loss to North Carolina on Saturday.

Anae, whose son, Famika, an assistant coach in the UVA program, is named in the suit, told reporters after the game that the suit “kind of blindsided all of us.”

Mendenhall said Monday that the investigation into the claims made by former player Aidan Howard, who was injured in an Aug. 12 incident described in the lawsuit as being the result of a pattern of hazing of younger players, had been ongoing since mid-August.

“The biggest distraction was when it hit kind of the reports, or the national reports hit, and we didn’t know when or how or if that would happen,” Mendenhall said. “So that was just a reminder off, oh, yeah, this happened. This investigation started a long time ago, but now everyone is talking about it.”

Mendenhall is not named in the suit. Two players, wide receivers Doni Dowling and David Edridge, are named, along with Famika Anae and another assistant coach, Marques Hagans, along with athletics director Craig Littlepage and UVA president Teresa Sullivan.

Mendenhall said he has advised players to be “very selective about the voices you listen to and control what you can control.”

“I asked our team to rely on trusted sources. But then, I more specifically have them focus entirely on what can they control, and anything else, they have to let go,” Mendenhall said.

As expected, Mendenhall didn’t address the substance of the allegations in the suit.

“There will be an appropriate time and an appropriate place for us to talk openly about the investigation when it’s over,” Mendenhall said.

Story by Chris Graham