Deaf wrestler, ACLU of Nebraska send demand letter to NSAA

Ruff, backed by the ACLU of Nebraska and the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), is now mainly asking for the NSAA to take responsibility for the mistake and to provide adequate training for all of its certified refs.

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — Paul Ruff, the deaf wrestler who says he was denied a state championship after a referee allegedly failed to appropriately communicate with him, has sent a demand letter to the NSAA.

Ruff said the lack of communication cost him the only point in a 1-0 loss.

“I didn’t understand what happened,” Ruff said. “It was very confusing. I was very heart broken and confused.”

Ruff, backed by the ACLU of Nebraska and the National Association of the Deaf (NAD), is now mainly asking for the NSAA to take responsibility for the mistake and to provide adequate training for all of its certified refs. He wants to ensure this doesn’t happen again for people like him.

“We just want to see the NSAA make changes for student athletes with disabilities to have a level playing field,” Ruff said.

The ACLU of Nebraska was drawn to Ruff’s case and took up his cause as well. They have been woefully disappointed with the lack of response from the NSAA.

“We simply haven’t seen action by the NSAA during this entire time,” said Rose Godinez, the interim legal director at the ACLU of Nebraska. “If anything, they’ve doubled down on their statements and have even attempted to place blame on Paul’s disability. That’s unacceptable.”

There’s also the possibility of compensatory damages that could be paid to Ruff and his family. However, Ruff is hoping that kind of action can be avoided and his legal team agrees.

“That is included in our demand letter, but as you see from what we’ve outlined, really our focus is trying to ensure that for athletes in the future this doesn’t happen again,” said Brittany Shrader, a senior attorney with NAD.

Now, it’s important to note, this is not a lawsuit. However, it could get to that point if the NSAA doesn’t respond within the next month.

“We do expect a response from the NSAA by Jan. 18,” said Godinez. “Should they not respond, of course, we’ll look to other options and litigation is one of them.”

Channel 8 reached out to the NSAA for a comment on this story but has not heard back at this time.

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