The University of the Cumberlands in Kentucky has reached a settlement of more than $14 million with the family of a student wrestler who died of heat stroke in 2020, the university and family’s attorney have said.
Grant Brace died after a “punishment practice” during which university wrestling coaches “ignored Grant’s deteriorating medical condition throughout practice,” according to the lawsuit filed by the Brace family.
Brace repeatedly begged for water, but the coaches wouldn’t allow anyone to help him and sent him out of the wrestling facility by himself, the lawsuit said.
Brace was found dead “with his hands clinched in the grass and dirt after a desperate and erratic search for assistance and water,” the lawsuit said. He was 20 years old at the time, according to the suit.
The university said it settled the case for $14.1 million out of respect for the Brace family’s loss, despite its belief in its ability to defend the claims asserted in the lawsuit, according to a news release from the university.
“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,” Chancellor Jerry Jackson said in the news release.
“We sincerely hope that resolving this matter early in the legal process will offer the Brace family a measure of peace and healing,” Jackson said.
The family’s attorney also announced the implementation of the B.R.A.C.E Protocol at the University of the Cumberlands, a program aimed at educating “coaches and athletes about exertional heat strokes in order to prevent further heat related deaths,” as part of the settlement.
The men’s wrestling coaches had created a “toxic and abusive culture” in the two years before Brace’s death, the lawsuit claimed.