Seven former Illinois women’s basketball players are suing the university, claiming that head coach Matt Bollant and former assistant coach Mike Divilbiss violated Title VI by creating a racially hostile environment.
The players are suing for $10 million in compensatory and punitive damages as well as attorney’s fees.
The specific claims—filed by Amarah Coleman, Alexis Smith, Taylor Tuck, Nia Oden, Sarah Livingston, Taylor Gleason, and Jacqui Gran—against Bollant are broken down into 13 specific points in the lawsuit:
a. Instituted segregated practices singling out the black Plaintiffs,Alexis Smith, Nia Oden and Taylor Tuck, as “crabs” because one crab can climb out of a bucket, but more than one pull eachother down in and none can get out;
b. Referred to the black Plaintiffs, Alexis Smith, Nia Oden andTaylor Tuck, as “toxic.”
c. Referred to these segregated practices as “the dog pound,” indirectly labeling the black Plaintiffs, Alexis Smith, Nia Odenand Taylor Tuck, dogs;
d. Appointed a white player captain without a team vote and even though the majority of players at the time were black;
e. Relegated and/or threatened relegation of the white Plaintiffs, Taylor Gleason and/or Jacqui Grant, to the “dog pound” in retaliation for these Plaintiffs’ continued association with and support of the black Plaintiffs against the racially hostile environment created by the Defendants, and labeled the whitePlaintiff in the segregated practices as a “mascot;”
f. Instituted segregated travel room assignments, prohibiting white players from rooming with black players, including among the white and black Plaintiffs;
g. During team preparations for games against other school swhose teams were predominantly made of black players, singled out the black Plaintiffs and other black teammates to ask what the players on the other team were thinking or going to do,implying that blacks think differently than whites;
h. During team preparations for games against other schools whose teams were predominantly made of white players, and in the context of subpar. (g), above, did not ask the black players what the other team’s white players were thinking or going to do;
i. During team preparations for games, referred to opposing teams predominantly made of black players as undisciplined and unintelligent, and referred to opposing teams predominantly made of white players as disciplined and intelligent;
j. Directly labeled or implied that one or more of the black Plaintiffs were unintelligent, undisciplined, “west-side ghetto” street-ball players on account of their race and stereotyping a community of origin;
k. Leveled discipline against the black players more severe than as against white players despite the same or similar conduct;
l. Re-constituted the team roster in favor of recruiting and signing white players over black players, increasing the number of white players and decreasing the number of black players each years ince 2012;
m. Other actions which, in their totality or individually, created aracially hostile environment.
You can read the entire lawsuit below.
This is the second major scandal Illinois has found itself entangled in within the past two months, as the Illini’s football program came under fire when a former offensive lineman publicly aired his grievances with the program.