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Late Rower’s Family Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit After Son’s Suicide, Claims Verbal Abuse Went Too Far


This story is about suicide. If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please contact the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Former University of California-San Diego men’s rowing coach Geoff Bond faces accusations of directing verbal abuse at athletes with at least one family saying their son killed himself because of it.

Brian Lilly Jr., who was on the team from 2019 to 2021, was 19 when he committed suicide and his parents and friend Parker Kinney told the Associated Press in a story published Wednesday that they believed it was the result of the alleged death. of Bond. verbal abuse.

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Brenda Lilly points to a photo of her son Brian Lilly Jr. competing in a regatta, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022, in Easton, Connecticut. Brian Lilly Jr., 19, who committed suicide on January 4, 2021, was a rower at the University of California, San Diego.
(AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

“This guy basically crushed Brian’s self-esteem, his threat to kick Brian off the team. And I don’t need to have a sports psychologist here to tell me how damaging that was,” Brian Lilly Sr. said.

Brenda and Brian Lilly Sr. filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Bond and the school, alleging that the coach mistreated their son because he challenged the coach’s decision to allow a rower to remain on the team despite allegations of sexual misconduct. against the athlete. Brian’s parents believe that Bond verbally abused their son, leading to his suicide in January 2021.

“I felt like they were trying to sweep all sexual assault allegations under the rug and a decent number of kids had legitimate concerns about this, saying, ‘This is pretty complicated,'” Kinney told the AP. “A lot of kids didn’t talk about it. Brian talked about it, so Geoff retaliated against him. Brian’s main concern was that this would damage the integrity of the team, which he was okay with.”

Brian Lilly cries as he talks about his son, Brian Lilly Jr., during an interview with The Associated Press, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022, in Easton, Connecticut.

Brian Lilly cries as he talks about his son, Brian Lilly Jr., during an interview with The Associated Press, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022, in Easton, Connecticut.
(AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

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Bond’s defense team filed a motion to dismiss the Lillys’ case, saying the trainer had not seen Brian Lilly Jr. for nine months before his death and that the trainer reached out during the pandemic lockdown period. to see if the rower would return to school. in San Diego on the east coast where he had been living.

Gary Champagne, who rowed for Bond at Cal his freshman year in 2002-03, defended the coach.

“I loved his coaching style and I feel like he’s a perfect fit for young college kids,” Champagne told the AP.

Brenda and Brian Lilly look at photos of their son Brian Lilly Jr. at their home in Easton, Connecticut, on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022. Brian Lilly Jr., 19, who committed suicide on Jan. 4, 2021, was a rower at the University of California San Diego.

Brenda and Brian Lilly look at photos of their son Brian Lilly Jr. at their home in Easton, Connecticut, on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022. Brian Lilly Jr., 19, who committed suicide on Jan. 4, 2021, was a rower at the University of California San Diego.
(AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

The Lillys say their son never had a history of mental illness before rowing at school.

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UC San Diego declined to comment to the AP, citing pending litigation. Bond left school on January 13.

Associated Press contributed to this report.



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