Family’s lawsuit claims university, coaches responsible for wrestler’s death

WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. (WTVQ) – A Tennessee family has filed suit against the University of the Cumberlands and some of its coaches and athletic director over the death of a student athlete last August.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in Whitley County Circuit Court by Kyle and Jacqueline Brace, the parents of 20-year-old Grant Brace, and Kaylee Wagnon, Grant’s sister.

The complaint names the University of the Cumberlands; The Cumberland Foundation, Inc.; Cumberland Athletics Properties, Inc.; University President Dr. Larry Cockrum; Athletic Director Chris Kraftick; and coaches Jordan Countryman and Jake Sinkovics and alleges their wrongful acts led to Grant Brace’s death on Aug. 31, 2020.

He died during or directly after what the lawsuit calls “grueling wrestling practice” and “Punishment Hill” sprints.

The school and staff didn’t provide him medical attention when he became disoriented and after being told to ‘get out’ of the locker room, he was found dead from apparent heat stroke outside a construction fence on campus, the lawsuit claims.

Brace came to Cumberlands from Alcoa High School in Tennessee where he wrestled and was a member of the school’s three-time state champion football team and the National Honors Society. Brace suffered from narcolepsy and ADHD, and his high school made accommodations for his conditions in both academics and sports, the lawsuit states.

Cumberlands promised similar steps but never came through, the lawsuit alleges, further contributing to the death.

No court dates have been set and the university has not yet filed a response.

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