Almost a week after the tragic death of Declan Sullivan, the University of Notre Dame is facing more damages to the university. The University faces compensatory damages from $15 to $20 million.
According to Forbes, these damages will be levied if the university, head coach Brian Kelly or athletic director Jack Swarbrick or any others associated with the facilities are found to have acted negligently in allowing Sullivan to videotape Wednesday’s football practice from a lift during 50 mph winds. Punitive damages could also be levied for an additional $45 to $60 million.
But just as you could conclude that it would have been reasonable for Mr. Sullivan to voluntarily seek shelter in light of his concerns, you could also argue that it would have been similarly reasonable for any one of the numerous on-site adults (e.g. coaches, administrators, facility staff) to approach Mr. Sullivan and mandate that he cease his elevated videography services due to inclimate weather for safety’s sake.
The reality is that most 20-year old employees of major Division I college football programs work in awe or fear (or both) of their coaching staffs and/or student-athlete peers. They are simply dedicated workers who show their school spirit by taking great pride in their job. As such, they are not likely to voluntarily ’sit one out’ unless approached by an adult who supposedly has a better grasp on the ‘big picture’ and who can play a nurturing and protective parental role when faced with adversity or unfamiliar circumstances.