Former UI Women’s Basketball Players’ Lawsuit Alleges ‘Racially Hostile Environment’

July 01, 2015
 
Illinois head coach Matt Bollant in the first half of a game gainst Iowa in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis, Ind., Thursday, March 6, 2014.

Illinois head coach Matt Bollant in the first half of a game gainst Iowa in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis, Ind., Thursday, March 6, 2014.

(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Seven former University of Illinois women's basketball players have sued the university, accusing coach Matt Bollant and a former assistant of violating their civil rights.

The players accuse the coaches of holding segregated practices and using more severe discipline for black players, among other things, since Bollant was hired in 2012.
 
The lawsuit filed Wednesday in federal court names the university, athletic director Mike Thomas, Bollant, former assistant Mike Divilbiss and university trustees. The ex-players seek $10 million in damages.

The university hired a law firm in May to investigate allegations brought by the players. They are Amarah Coleman, Taylor Gleason, Jacqui Grant, Sarah Livingston, Nia Oden, Alexis Smith and Taylor Tuck.

Chancellor Phyllis Wise issued a statement Wednesday afternoon:

“The external review is continuing, so it is disappointing that legal action has preceded the findings. We will review the lawsuit and determine an appropriate response. I cannot stress enough that any time we learn that a student feels the experience at Illinois isn’t excellent, we take those concerns seriously. We intended that through the external review process the student-athletes and their families would help us better understand their concerns and perceptions.

As we await the results of the review, Athletic Director Mike Thomas has already added staff to closely monitor team activities and has implemented additional ways for student-athletes to report any concerns they have. As this situation has demonstrated, even though our avenues for reporting concerns match or exceed those of most of our peers, we will continue to explore ways for students to connect with a university staff member to address them promptly and constructively.”

Story source: AP