Family of Julius Whittier, Texas Football's 1st Black Player, Suing NCAA

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJune 30, 2020

AUSTIN, TX - SEPTEMBER 02:  The Texas Longhorns logo on the field at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium before the game against the Maryland Terrapins on September 2, 2017 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images)
G Fiume/Getty Images

The family of former Texas guard and tight end Julius Whittier—the Longhorns' first Black football player—is suing the NCAA for negligence and wrongful death, according to David Barron of the Houston Chronicle.

They are seeking damages of over $1 million.

The family is contending in the lawsuit that Whittier's death—he died in 2018 at the age of 68 and had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease—was from head trauma that dated back to his football career. A postmortem examination of his brain revealed that he had chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE. 

Houston attorney Eugene Egdorf said the family's goal in the lawsuit was to provide justice and to promote awareness: 

"Julius Whittier was a pioneer who became a lawyer and a member of the district attorney's staff in Dallas County, and his life was about justice. His family wants to carry on in his name and hope that we can make changes. We don't want to end football. We just want to make it as safe as possible and make sure that everybody is informed about what can happen. That has not been the case historically, and we want to change that."

Whittier spent three seasons with the Longhorns (1970-72). He caught four passes for 53 yards and a touchdown in the 1972 campaign. After his playing days, he became an attorney in Dallas. Per Barron, "he began suffering from behavioral changes in 2008 that led to the end of his legal career in 2012 and was transferred in 2016 to a memory care facility."

"He continually spoke of how he was trained to block, using his head," his sister, Mildred Whittier, said in 2017. "For someone who was as brilliant and as vital as my brother, it's just sad."

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The lawsuit argues that Whitter suffered numerous sub-concussive blows during his time at Texas, both in games and on the practice field. 

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