UM must bear mascot's injury School ordered to pay $5,000, medical bills

March 01, 1993|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,Staff Writer

In the blink of an eye, Scott Rudolph became a national celebrity -- the University of Maryland Terrapin mascot who broke his arm during a televised run-in with the Virginia Cavalier.

His arm never healed fully from the injury at a football game in 1988, but the 26-year-old Sykesville resident has finally won the battle with his alma mater over who is responsible for his medical bills.

Mr. Rudolph figured that as a mascot who was paid $25 for some events, he was an employee of the university and therefore entitled to worker's compensation benefits. The university's insurer disagreed and fought his claim.

A worker's compensation judge agreed with Mr. Rudolph in a pair of related decisions, the most recent one coming just a few weeks ago.

The rulings required the state to pay Mr. Rudolph more than $5,000 for the permanent injury to his arm, according to his at torney, Terri Selby. The state also will be responsible for any medical bills related to the injury for the rest of his life.

Mr. Rudolph's 15 minutes of fame came just before the Maryland-Virginia football game in November 1988. For a few moments, Mr. Rudolph and the Cavalier mascot were wrestling playfully. But Mr. Rudolph says as he turned to leave, the Cavalier pushed him down onto the turf. When Mr. Rudolph put his left arm out to break the fall, the arm snapped, broken in three places. Screaming in agony, Mr. Rudolph was taken away in an ambulance.

Television crews interviewed him in his hospital bed and Mr. Rudolph's story was told across the country.

Despite months of painful therapy, Mr. Rudolph cannot fully straighten the arm. Problems such as arthritis may trouble him for years to come.

Mr. Rudolph figures his case might benefit other students who get hurt cheering for the Terrapins. "I hope this will help other people," he said.

His father, Lee Rudolph of Bel Air, watched angrily as his son fought the worker's compensation case. "The colleges promote this violence," the father said.

"Then when the kids get hurt, what do they say? 'It's not our fault.' "

University officials referred questions to the Injured Workers Insurance Fund, a state agency that insures state workers. Officials there did not return phone calls to discuss Mr. Rudolph's case.

Mr. Rudolph, a finance major, graduated in spring 1989. Today, he divides his time between Sykesville and Ocean City, where he owns a restaurant and a boardwalk lemonade stand.

There's one loose end. A suit he filed against the University of Virginia mascot remains unresolved.

Meanwhile, Mr. Rudolph is a loyal alumnus of College Park.

"What can I say? I love the school."

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