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Negligence suit filed against CofC by former women's basketball player

Candice Jackson (WCIV)

A former College of Charleston women's basketball player filed suit against the school, claiming the coaching staff was grossly negligent during an August 2014 practice in which the player collapsed and suffered severe medical problems that left her hospitalized.

According to Zoe Wallis' attorneys, Mullins McLeod, the lawsuit stems from a team practice that involved the team making timed 5-mile runs across the Ravenel Bridge. The running in summer heat caused Wallis to pass out and triggered "serious organ damage, including damage to her liver and kidneys."

It was part of a "mental toughness" exercise, Wallis alleges.

When the 6-foot, 3-inch Wallis collapsed, she claims head coach Candice M. Jackson was indifferent to her fall and told her to crawl to the finish line if she was too weak to stand.

"Plaintiff was in fact suffering from severe hyperthermia and had lost consciousness," attorneys for Wallis claim. "No one called 911 and no one administered proper care ... she was stuffed in the back seat of a hot car and driven to a hospital where she was admitted to the ER."

Wallis says she had a fever of 104.6 degrees and her heart was beating at 159 bpm. She was admitted to the ICU and spent two days there before being released with physical restrictions, she said.

Wallis withdrew from the team in 2015 "due to the lasting mental and physical effects of the August 2014 incident," she said. However, she intended to stay enrolled at the College as a student.

That's when Wallis says she found out her scholarship had been revoked.

"Zoe is determned to stand up for herself and other student athletes. I hope this lawsuit enabled her to return to the College of Charleston and bring reform to the women's basketball program at the College," McLeod said.

Wallis and McLeod say the College violated NCA rules and the school's own grant-in-aid contract because NCAA regulations do not allow a player's scholarship to be revoked if they are injured while participating in the scholarship sport.

Since leaving CofC, Wallis has been back home in Missiouri attending a community college, but says she wants to return to Charleston.

"I really miss my Charleston family and I wake up each day wishing I was still at the College and able to play basketball again. I paid a very heavy proce to be a part of CofC's women's basketball team and the coach's action took away my basketball but she shouldn't be able to take away my education," Wallis said.

She is asking for a jury trial and she is seeking unspecified actual, special, consequential, and punitive damaged. She also wants to be re-admitted to the College with a full scholarship until graduation.

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