George O'Leary Will Testify in Ereck Plancher Case

Jessica DAnalyst IJanuary 6, 2010

ORLANDO, FL - SEPTEMBER 15: Coach George O'Leary of the University of Central Florida Knights directs play against the Texas Longhorns at Bright House Networks Stadium on September 15, 2007 in Orlando, Florida.  The sixth-ranked Longhorns won 35 - 32.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

UCF attorneys kept George O'Leary hushed throughout the 2009 football season regarding the 2008 death of freshman football player Ereck Plancher, but now that the season has come to a close, O'Leary is slated to testify in the pending wrongful death lawsuit.

The lawsuit, initiated by Plancher's parents, was filed against the UCF Athletics Association and UCF board of trustees. They have alleged that coaches and athletic trainers were negligent in their treatment of Plancher.

O'Leary has disputed the accuracy of reports about the events leading up to Ereck Plancher's death, but has declined to provide details due to pending litigation.

He will likely be asked a wide variety of questions about UCF football's training methods and Plancher's final workout.

Plancher was a 19 year old freshman wide receiver from Naples, whose sickle cell trait was aggravated by an intense workout session. The disease attacked his organs and caused his body to shut down.

UCF has repeatedly called Plancher's death a tragedy and maintains that those present during the tragedy did all they could to save his life. 

UCF head athletic trainer Mary Vander Heiden is scheduled to give the second deposition, followed by team doctors and strength and conditioning coaches.

It is not certain yet whether the case will result in a settlement or a full blown jury case.

The UCF Athletics Association has filed a motion for partial summary judgment, asking Circuit Judge Maura T. Smith to rule that the UCFAA is a state agency and is governed by state settlement limitations. Under Florida law, state agencies pay up to $200,000 in settlements. 

The remainder of any judgments must be approved by the Legislature before they are paid.

More about the Ereck Plancher story will be covered by UCF Knights Examiner Jessica Dawkins- email her at