Kevin O’Neill, fired by the Dolphins for his role in the team’s bullying scandal, is now the head football athletic trainer at Florida International University, the school confirmed Monday following a report by Fox Sports.
O’Neill, who has been at FIU working under coach Ron Turner since mid-March, was the Dolphins’ trainer for 18 years before the team fired him in February 2014, citing lack of cooperation in the NFL’s investigation of Richie Incognito’s bullying of Jonathan Martin.
O’Neill’s dismissal from the Dolphins came the same week he was honored by the NFL Physicians’ Society as NFL Trainer of the Year.
Still yet to be resolved is the lawsuit that O’Neill filed against the Dolphins in the wake of his firing.
The lawsuit — filed against the Dolphins, owner Stephen Ross and then-coach Joe Philbin — claims O’Neill was targeted by the Dolphins “as a scapegoat” for the criticism the team received after the bullying controversy.
Ted Wells, who investigated the matter on behalf of the NFL, cited O’Neill’s lack of cooperation in his investigation and also asserted that O’Neill laughed at Incognito’s racially charged insults of Martin.
O’Neill claims in the lawsuit that he couldn’t cooperate with Wells because of federal health laws (HIPAA) and professional ethics, which compelled him to “preserve the confidences of those who relied on him for their physical and emotional well-being.”
O’Neill told USA Today last November that he had applied for 35 jobs since his firing but was summoned for only three interviews.
Ross told USA Today at the time that O’Neill was fired for “insubordination.”
Regarding O’Neill’s claim that HIPAA laws prevented him from disclosing information to the team, Ross said: “I don’t remember all of the specifics. All I know is that he didn’t fully cooperate, and the things that were said, it was an interpretation at that point in time. But I thought he wasn’t doing what he was supposed to be doing, what he was asked to do.”
Before his long tenure with the Dolphins, O’Neill was the University of Miami’s head athletic trainer from 1985 through 1989 and worked seven years in the same position with the Dallas Cowboys, among other jobs.
O’Neill is the second person to find work in the college ranks after being dismissed by the Dolphins in the wake of Bullygate. Former offensive line coach Jim Turner was hired for the same job at the University of Cincinnati earlier this year.