TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — Inching closer to a return. After suffering heatstroke and spending weeks in the hospital, one Towson football player hopes to beat the odds and take the field again this season—but the university doesn’t feel it’s safe.
Rick Ritter has more on the growing legal battle.
After that heatstroke, Towson football player Gavin Class had more than a dozen surgeries. His doctors say he’s cleared to play but the university isn’t taking any chances.
From a near death experience to an unimaginable comeback, it’s been a grueling two years for Towson football player Gavin Class.
“Just gotta stick with it and keep going strong,” Class said.
Class collapsed during a Tigers practice after his temperature topped 107 degrees. His heart stopped and his liver failed, leaving him hospitalized.
“I don’t really start remembering stuff until four weeks into hospital,” he said.
After 14 surgeries, Class beat the odds and got himself back into football shape, but Towson said he could not play safely for the university.
It was crushing news for the offensive lineman, who passed dozens of health tests.
“My end goal ever since I woke up was I was going to return to football,” he said. “That’s what got me through going to hospital.”
Class and his attorney Andrew Dansicker filed a disability discrimination lawsuit against Towson.
“We really had no choice. The only way Gavin would play would be to go to court and get the judge to order Towson to allow him to play,” said Dansicker.
Which is exactly what happened Friday. A judge ordered the university to allow the 22-year-old to become a full participant in its football program, adding, “There’s no risk of increased liability for Towson because Class indicated he’s willing to sign a waiver before participating.
“I was literally so excited,” Class said. “Just something I’ve been waiting to hear.”
But from cloud 9 to a halt. Towson officials say, “After thoroughly reviewing the judge’s decision, we have decided to appeal. As an institution, our highest priority is the safety and well-being of our students.”
Class is hoping for one more shot in the trenches.
“You can’t worry about [collapsing again]. Then you’re distracted. It will affect your play,” Class said. “I know God wants me to play. I’ve always wanted to play football and I love playing football.”
Some doctors say Class will be the safest player on the field because they can monitor his internal temperature with a pill he’ll swallow before practice.
Class’s family says they have no problem paying for those accommodations. A doctor from the Korey Stringer Institute in Connecticut, a highly regarded institution for heatstroke treatment, will monitor Class’s temperature for the first two weeks of practice.
“Towson would not let him play or provide accommodations. As far as we know, it’s the first case in the United States where the federal court ordered a University to allow a collegiate athlete to play when the University Doctor recommended that athlete not play,” says Dansicker.
The Court of Appeals in Richmond will decide whether the judge made the right decision.
Class’s attorney says they’re trying to have the case expedited because practice for Towson football starts August 9.