The first football player with Down syndrome to score for an NCAA team is suing his former college for discrimination and harassment

The first football player with Down syndrome to score for an NCAA team is suing his former college for discrimination and harassment
  • Caden Cox, the first NCAA football player with Down syndrome to score, is suing his former college for discrimination.

  • The lawsuit says a school employee at Hocking College relentlessly harassed Cox and threatened him with a knife.

  • The lawsuit also claims the school retaliated after Cox reported the incident, stripping him of several awards.

A former college football player who was the first player with Down syndrome to score in an NCAA football game is suing his former school, alleging several employees discriminated against him and then retaliated when he complained.

Caden Cox filed the lawsuit on Thursday in an Ohio federal court through his mother, Mari Cox, according to court documents.

Cox made history in 2021 when he kicked an extra point for Hocking College in their game against Sussex Community College. Caden's father, Kevin Cox, the former special teams coach for Hocking College, told ESPN in 2021 that Caden's dream was to be the kicker for Ohio State University.

"If that's that kid's dream, I'm never going to tell him no," Kevin Cox told ESPN.

The lawsuit accuses Matt Kmosko, the Hocking College student center supervisor, of making "abusive, derogatory, and inappropriate comments" to Caden and physically harassing him after he started working there.

"Specifically, Mr. Kmosko would consistently make derogatory slurs about individuals with Down Syndrome to Plaintiff during work hours, use the word 'retarded' and degrade his abilities, and berate and yell at Plaintiff frequently and in front of his co-workers," the complaint says.

Kmosko also went through Caden's phone without permission, asked Caden to give him hugs, and sent aggressive text messages to Caden while staring at him "menacingly," the lawsuit says.

Cox's family sent written complaints about Kmosko to the school in July 2021 and January 2022, according to the complaint.

The complaint says that on May 12, 2022, Kmosko's harassment came to a head when he followed Caden into a restroom and threatened him with a knife.

"When Plaintiff was able to return to the front desk, shaken and scared, he received a phone call from Mr. Kmosko, who said, 'Caden, I see you through the window, get up and do something,' then he hung up," the complaint says.

Cox's family reported Kmosko to the police on May 16, 2022. He was later charged and convicted of "menacing," a misdemeanor in Ohio, related to the knife incident.

The lawsuit says Cox graduated in December 2022 and was supposed to earn the school's scholar-athlete award, Hocking College trustee award, and the inspirational award. But, after Cox's attorneys sent a letter to the school on Dec. 2 notifying it of the discrimination claims, the school only gave him the inspirational award.

The lawsuit claims that was an act of retaliation.

On Jan. 10, Cox's attorneys updated his discrimination complaint to include the information about his withheld awards. On the same day, both Cox's parents, who were employees of the school, received an email from the human resources department that said they were "interrupting the workday," citing the school's "Children at Work" policy, according to the complaint.

The lawsuit says the school also told Cox's parents that they would need to take vacation time to testify in Kmosko's criminal trial after they were subpoenaed.

The lawsuit demands a trial by jury and compensatory and punitive damages from all defendants, including the Hocking College Board of Trustees, Hocking College President Betty Young, Kmosko, and five unnamed defendants.

Hocking College told Insider it does not comment on active litigation on Monday when reached by email.

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