KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The University of the Cumberlands will pay $14 million to settle a lawsuit following the death of wrestler and Blount County native Grant Brace in 2020.
The settlement announced Wednesday between the Kentucky university and Brace’s family includes monetary payments exceeding $14 million. The university will also engage in a heat-illness training program and promote the Brace family’s efforts to raise awareness of heat-related injuries.
Brace died on Aug. 31, 2020 hours after on-campus workouts.
The lawsuit filed the following year alleged the university, athletic director and coaches were negligent and failed to provide Brace with medical aid that could have prevented his death.
It also alleged two coaches created an “atmosphere of fear of intimidation” in the wrestling program through manipulation and abuse. The two coaches are no longer employed by the school, according to the school’s athletic directory.
In the release announcing the settlement, a school spokesperson said the university believed it could have defended the claims asserted in the lawsuit, “but the legal process would have been long, difficult and costly, ending years from now in a trial with an uncertain outcome. The university made the decision to settle the case now in a manner it hopes will respect the Brace family’s tremendous loss.”
A native of Louisville, Tenn., Brace graduated from Alcoa High School in 2018. He amassed a 128-33 wrestling record and was a three-time state champion in football, as well as a member of the National Honors Society. He was a featured varsity wrestler on the University of the Cumberlands men’s team, tallying three falls in his career, including a pin in the 2018 Patriot Open.
“Grant was a talented, well-liked young man entering his junior year with a bright future ahead of him,” Chancellor Jerry Jackson said in a statement. “Our University community continues to mourn his untimely loss. We sincerely hope that resolving this matter early in the legal process will offer the Brace family a measure of peace and healing.”