NU coaches still responsible, Wheeler's mother says

Updated: October 22, 2003, 12:07 AM ET
Associated Press

CHICAGO -- The mother of a Northwestern University football player who died in 2001 dropped a claim Tuesday against the manufacturers of a dietary supplement.

Linda Will issued a statement saying she believes Northwestern coaches and staff were solely responsible for the death of her son, Rashidi Wheeler.

In July, Will's lawyers amended their wrongful death lawsuit to include the supplement makers. At the time they said the statute of limitations was due to expire, so they added the companies as a precaution.

"It would be wrong for me to take money from the ephedra makers," Will told the Chicago Sun-Times outside court Tuesday. "I am not going to do a dishonest act. I'm not going to take money just because I can."

Wheeler collapsed and died on Aug. 3, 2001, after participating in a conditioning drill. His parents sued Northwestern, claiming officials did not give their son, an asthmatic, timely or adequate medical treatment.

Northwestern argues ephedra-containing supplements Wheeler was taking caused an irregular heartbeat that led to his death. Spokesman Alan Cubbage said Tuesday that Will's decision won't change the school's position.

"Those supplements are unregulated and dangerous," Cubbage said. "When Rashidi took the substances it caused a heart arrhythmia and that led to cardiac arrest."

The university added manufacturers and sellers of the supplements to the lawsuit as third-party defendants.


Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press