19-year-old files lawsuit after being kicked off team for 'sexy' Instagram photos
A former member of the women’s volleyball program at the University of Cincinnati has filed a federal lawsuit against the school’s coach, claiming she was dropped from the team for posting pictures of herself on Instagram that the coach deemed “too sexy.”
Shalom Ifeanyi filed the lawsuit last week. Ifeanyi, who is black, claims head coach Molly Alvey, who is white, began “harassing and shaming” her from the moment Alvey recruited her onto the team last year.
Also listed as defendants are Maggie McKinley, the school’s associate athletic director, and the university itself.
The suit claims that after Ifeanyi arrived on campus in January of last year, Alvey began complaining to her about the pictures she was posting of herself online.
Afraid of retaliation by Alvey, Ifeanyi says she removed the photographs the coach deemed “too sexy” and began to simply post headshots on her social media profiles for some time thereafter.
Ifaenyi’s complaint claims “no such requests were made to other members of the women’s volleyball team who were of slighter build and lighter complexion despite photographs picturing them in outfits, including but not limited to, two-piece swimsuits.”
During a June meeting in Alvey’s office, Ifeanyi claims the coach closed the door and told the player to pull up her social media accounts. One of the posts pictured Ifeanyi in a slightly low-cut top.
Alvey allegedly told Ifeanyi, “When the football players see this, what do you think they see? They see your breasts. It’s seductive.”
Ifeanyi again agreed to remove the picture for fear of retaliation from the coach.
Two days later, Ifeanyi posted pictures of herself taken the previous day on her 19th birthday, but Alvey again wanted them removed. This time, Ifeanyi refused.
She told Alvey via text, “I feel like I’m being body shamed because I’m not flat chested. I’m not trying to show my boobs coach, I can’t make them go away. In these pictures I just got my hair done and really liked my makeup …”
Less than two weeks later, Alvey called Ifeanyi into her office and told the player she was being dismissed from the team because the two had “different philosophies.” The suit claims McKinley was in attendance at the meeting and agreed the two sides needed to “part ways” but offered no specific reason for Ifeanyi’s dismissal.
Ifeanyi was allowed to retain her athletic scholarship through the current academic year, but NCAA transfer rules prohibit her from receiving a scholarship to play in the 2018-19 season. She has enrolled in another university to complete her undergraduate studies but says she has “lost earning capacity due to the delay and disruption in her education.”
Ifeanyi filed a Title IX complaint with the school, but she says the school has done little in the nine months since to provide an opportunity for her to appeal her dismissal from the team.
The suit claims Ifeanyi has been subject to racial and gender discrimination as well as pain and suffering in the form of humiliation, frustration, aggravation, anger and depression. The suit is seeking “compensatory damages, punitive damages, reasonable attorney fees, costs, and all other relief to which she may be entitled.”
The university has not commented on the claims made in the lawsuit.
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