North Carolina State University (NC State) has been hit with a federal lawsuit by former women’s basketball players who claim they experienced “racially hostile” and “discriminatory” treatment by the coaching staff. The lawsuit was filed by five players, including former team captain Kiara Leslie, who is now playing in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA).
The players claim that head coach Wes Moore and assistant coaches Nikki West and Lindsay Edmonds used racist language and fostered a hostile environment for Black players on the team. The lawsuit alleges that the coaches used slurs and stereotypes to describe Black players and singled them out for unfair treatment. The players also claim that the coaching staff discouraged Black players from speaking out about their experiences and retaliated against those who did.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for the harm caused by the coaches’ alleged behavior, as well as injunctive relief to prevent similar conduct from occurring in the future. The plaintiffs are being represented by attorneys from the law firm Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, who have a history of litigating high-profile discrimination cases.
In response to the lawsuit, NC State issued a statement saying that it takes “all allegations of discrimination seriously” and is committed to providing a safe and inclusive environment for all students. The university has launched an internal investigation into the allegations and has pledged to take appropriate action based on the findings.
This is not the first time NC State has faced allegations of discrimination in its athletics department. In 2018, former women’s basketball coach Kellie Harper filed a lawsuit claiming that she was fired due to gender discrimination. The case was settled out of court in 2019, with NC State agreeing to pay Harper $250,000.
The current lawsuit comes amid a broader reckoning with racism and discrimination in college sports. In recent years, athletes at universities across the country have spoken out about their experiences with racial bias and discrimination, prompting calls for systemic change in the NCAA and its member institutions.
The case against NC State highlights the ongoing need for colleges and universities to take proactive steps to address discrimination and harassment within their athletic programs. It also underscores the importance of providing avenues for student-athletes to report instances of misconduct and ensuring that they are protected from retaliation for speaking out.
As the case moves forward, it will be closely watched by athletes, coaches, and administrators across the country, as it has the potential to set a precedent for how universities handle allegations of discrimination in their athletics programs.
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