Former Iowa State Cyclones star Nikki Moody filed a lawsuit against her former coach Bill Fennelly late last week for racial discrimination, on the grounds that he had repeatedly called her a “thug” and verbally abused her throughout the course of her career. She also names the school and the state of Iowa as defendants, and implies that Fennelly helped her WNBA career flame out out before she got a fair chance. The AP first reported on the suit this morning.
Moody was a four-year starter for Fennelly from 2011 through 2015, and she led her team to the NCAA Tournament every year. She left the school as its all-time leader in assists. After graduating last year, she got drafted by the San Antonio Stars in April, but was cut almost two months later.
In the suit, she says that Fennelly, who has been the women’s basketball coach since 1995, called her into his office after she was the victim of an assault at a bar near campus, called her a thug, and blamed her for the incident.
Moody alleges that she was not the only black player who was subject to Fennelly’s wrath. She details a series of abusive remarks that the coach made towards her teammate Chassidy Cole, as well as the other black players who came in with Moody’s class. According to the suit, Fennelly wanted to stop recruiting black players to the team and one of his assistants even told Moody this.
She says that Fennelly wouldn’t let her leave to attend her uncle’s funeral in 2014, and that her coach said she was selfish for asking. One of the most serious claims that Moody’s suit brings up is the implication that Fennelly damaged Moody’s prospects as a WNBA player. She says a white former player was allowed to use ISU facilities to train before the draft and that university medical staff treated her injuries a full two years after she’d graduated. Moody, meanwhile, was told that she wasn’t welcome to the facility.
Moody says that ISU coaches and administrators ignored pleas for help and didn’t do anything to help her get her name out there before the draft. She was taken 33rd by the San Antonio Stars, who are coached by Dan Hughes, someone Fennelly calls his friend.
A university spokesman gave a no-comment to the AP:
“Iowa State University has not seen the lawsuit and has no comment,” spokesman John McCarroll said.
Here is the full suit, via the Des Moines Register.