A former member of the University of Cincinnati women’s volleyball team has filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court, claiming that she was kicked off the school’s varsity team for taking Instagram images deemed “too sexy” by her coach. Cincinnati head volleyball coach Molly Alvey, executive senior associate athletic director Maggie McKinley, and the University of Cincinnati are named as defendants in the lawsuit filed by Shalom Ifeanyi on Tuesday.
According to court records, the 19-year old Ifeanyi alleges that Alvey “harassed” and “shamed” her about images posted to her Instagram account, referring to them as “too sexy.” She says that she was singled out among her teammates. She claims that racial and sexual discrimination as the reasons for her dismissal for the team – claiming that other members of the team, especially ones of lighter complexion, were not treated the same way in spite of posting pictures in similar states of dress to their accounts. Ifeanyi referred to her coach’s actions as “body shaming.”
Alvey, with the athletics director McKinley in attendance, told Ifeanyi that she was being removed from the team for philosophical differences, which meant that she would not have her scholarship renewed for the 2018-2019 season. She then filed a Title IX complaint about her dismissal, but says that no investigation happened. She also says that she was not given a release to play for another team next season, which by NCAA rules the school doesn’t have to grant, and that this is costing her scholarship money.
The lawsuit seeks “compensatory damages, punitive damages, reasonable attorney fees, costs, and all other relief to which she may be entitled.” The total requested was $75,000.
The University of Cincinnati has not replied to a request for comment.
Cincinnati finished 13-19 last season. Ifeanyi didn’t see any court time after suffering a knee injury.