Peyton Manning is among the athletes cited in a lawsuit filed last week by six former female students alleging that the University of Tennessee has violated Title IX regulations.
The group of women argues its athletics department has long condoned a "hostile sexual environment" stretching back to the mid-1990s, citing nearly a dozen instances of former student athletes accused of sexual assault, including Manning, according to The Tennessean.
According to the newspaper, the allegation that Manning sexually assaulted a female athletics trainer while in college was first reported in 2003.
On Saturday, a widely shared New York Daily News column about the alleged incident and a subsequent lawsuit filed by the trainer drew widespread attention on social media.
The federal suit filed last Tuesday in Nashville states Tennessee's policies made students more vulnerable to sexual assault and had a "clearly unreasonable response" after incidents that caused the women making complaints to endure additional harassment. The suit also states the university interfered with the disciplinary process to favor male athletes.
Manning won his second Super Bowl last Sunday when the quarterback and his Denver Broncos beat the Carolina Panthers. The 39-year-old future Hall of Famer is taking his time on deciding whether to come back another year or retire, as most expect him to do.
According to The Tennessean, the lawsuit calls out an alleged 1996 incident in which Manning, while the star quarterback for the Volunteers, was accused of placing his naked genitals on the face of the female trainer while she was examining him. Manning has denied the allegations and said he was "mooning" a fellow athlete.
The trainer, Dr. Jamie Naughright, later sued Manning. In documents filed on her behalf in the case, the player whom Manning says he was "mooning," Malcolm Saxon, refutes Manning's account. Naughright's lawsuit against Manning was settled in 1997 with the agreement that she leave the university.
Manning later wrote an autobiography, "Manning: A Father, His Sons and a Football Legacy," in which he claimed that Naughright had a "vulgar" mouth and described his interactions with her at Tennessee in an unflattering light.
In 2003, Naughright again sued Manning and his father, Archie Manning, ghost writer John Underwood and HarperCollins Publishers Inc.