Football Player's Family Sues UNM, NCAA Over Suicide

Andy Berg Headshot

The family of a University of New Mexico football player who took his own life last year has filed a civil suit, alleging the school, head coach Bob Davie and the NCAA were negligent in the death of their son. 

The family of Lobos defensive lineman Nahje Flowers is arguing that not enough was done to protect their son.

“This lawsuit's purpose is to shine a light on the need to protect athletes in a very violent sport and to allow Nahje's parents their day in court," attorney Bob Hilliard said on a video call announcing the lawsuit, according to USA Today.

Hilliard said Flowers, 21, had been dealing with mental health issue and thoughts of suicide when a school psychiatrist prescribed antidepressants and instructed him to sit out for at least two games.

Flowers nevertheless played in a Nov. 2 game at Nevada and was later found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his apartment.

"There was no protocol in place, or if there was, it was ignored, which makes it worse," Hilliard said. "The doctor was concerned enough to say you shouldn't play but that was overruled because there was a game coming up."

An autopsy would reveal signs of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) in Flowers’ brain.

"He wasn't being listened to and his mental and physical well-being were not prioritized," Flowers' mother Vickie Gilmore said. "Our families hoped he would return with a higher education and a bright future ahead. I never imagined he that would return home by funeral arrangements."

“While we do not comment directly on pending or active litigation, the mental and physical well-being of our students is of the greatest importance to The University of New Mexico, and the loss of a student is tragic and affects the entire Lobo community deeply," UNM Chief Marketing & Communication Officer Cinnamon Blair said in a statement emailed to USA TODAY Sports. "Nahje made great contributions to UNM as a student and an athlete, and our thoughts continue to be with his family.” 

The suit is seeking unspecified monetary damages.

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