University of Missouri Announces Settlement of Aaron O'Neal Case
March 12, 2009
Story Contact: Christian Basi, (573) 882- 4430, BasiC@missouri.edu
COLUMBIA, Mo. - The 13th Judicial Circuit Court today approved a settlement in the lawsuit involving the death of MU student and football player Aaron O'Neal. The settlement was approved by Circuit Court Judge Gary Oxenhandler. The settlement was reached with no admission of fault by the defendants.
"It's difficult to describe the emotions that are involved in something like this," MU Athletic Director Mike Alden said. "You're certainly relieved that the legal process is over, but you still have this void that was created by Aaron's death that can never be filled. My hope is that the closing of the legal chapter is beneficial for everyone, and that the O'Neal family knows that our thoughts will continue to be with them."
The settlement includes the following:
- The University will honor O'Neal in a permanent way by establishing a $250,000 endowed scholarship fund.
- $2 million will be paid to O'Neal's family. The University will pay approximately $600,000 with the rest coming from the University's insurer. The University's insurer, who is experienced in these types of claims across the country, recommended and participated in this settlement.
- No fault is attributed to any of the 14 defendants. As a consequence of the court's action, all 14 defendants will be dismissed.
"It's good to have the legal process completed," MU Football Coach Gary Pinkel said. "From the moment we lost Aaron, our primary concern was always for his family and for us to do what's right for them. I've always understood through this whole process that they were doing what they had to do, and all we could focus on was honoring Aaron and what he meant to our program. We've done a lot of things over the last 3 1/2 years to keep his memory alive, and I think the scholarship is a wonderful idea to continue that."
For nearly 4 years, the Mizzou Football Team has remembered O'Neal publicly and privately by preserving his locker, shouting his name after every practice, alternately wearing his No. 25 jersey during home games, painting No. 25 on the football field's sidelines and naming the linebacker meeting room in the Mizzou Athletic Training Complex in O'Neal's memory.
NOTE: Gary Pinkel will be available to speak with reporters following today's Spring football practice at approximately 5:30.