Volleyball Player Dismissed From Her College Team For Dressing Too Seductively On Instagram
Shalom Ifeanyi is in the process of suing the University of Cincinnati after her volleyball coach dismissed her from the team because she allegedly posted pictures that were too provocative on Instagram.
According to The Daily Mail, Ifeanyi, a 19-year-old Black woman, is suing her coach Molly Alvey and the executive senior associate athletic director Maggie McKinley for race and sex discrimination.
Ifeanyi alleges that her coach, Alvey, began harassing and body-shaming shortly after she officially joined the team in January 2017. Alvey recruited Ifeanyi from Oregon State University to the University of Cincinnati as a student-athlete, entitling her to a scholarship.
Alvey took issue with Ifeanyi’s Instagram pictures calling them “too sexy.”
Ifeanyi said the pictures that Alvey disapproved of were ones in which she was fully clothed. Documents state that Alvey didn’t make similar comments to her teammates who also posted pictures of themselves in two-piece swimsuits.
Ifeanyi believes the difference is that her teammates have slimmer builds and lighter complexions.
Last June, Ifeanyi had knee surgery and eventually met with her coach to discuss rehab and prospects for the upcoming season.
During the meeting, Ifeanyi says Alvey got up, closed the door to her office and asked her to open her Instagram profile. When she did so, Alvey requested that Ifeanyi remove a specific photo, saying, “When the football players see this, what do you think they see? They see your breasts. It’s seductive.”
Ifeanyi compiled to her coach’s request to remove the photos but did so after expressing her issue with the decision.
Ifeanyi said she removed the photos because she was afraid of “retaliation” on the coach’s part and resigned to only sharing headshots.
But, as the text message exchange shows, Ifeanyi said,
“Ok Coach, however 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 and thought the pictures were pretty. My teammates have swimsuit photos that are more revealing than me in a tank top. I will delete them if you really want me to but I feel like because people say I’m pretty I’m being sexualized. There’s a history off black women because of their bodies being sexualized and that’s what appears to be happening to me. I can’t help the way I’m built. I am not trying to argue, I just feel like I have to be flat-chested or real skinny in order to post.”
Coach Alvey never responded to the message but later acknowledged that she had received it.
Later, Alvey called Ifeanyi into her office and told her that she was being dismissed from the team, saying that she and Ifeanyi had “different philosophies.”
When Ifeanyi asked if her dismissal had anything to do with her text message, Alvey said that she’d read it and they would discuss it further. She offered no other reason for her decision.
McKinley, the athletic director, was present for the meeting and agreed with Alvey’s decision to dismiss Ifeanyi.
After being dismissed from the team, Ifeanyi filed a Title IX complaint but the University of Cincinnati failed to complete the investigation within a nine-month time frame, giving her a “meaningful opportunity to appeal.”
Ifeanyi was on scholarship to play volleyball for the school. While she’ll be able to keep it for the 2017-2018 academic year, she was told her funding would not be renewed next year due to her dismissal.
NCAA rules also state that she will not be able to play volleyball competitively for 2018-2019 season at any school. The lawsuit states the rule “effectively [ends] any potential ability for [Ifeanyi] to rely on an athletic scholarship for payment of tuition and related costs.”
Ifeanyi has been forced to enroll in another university to continue her undergraduate studies and has lost earning capacity due to delay and disruption of her education.
The lawsuit claims that Ifeanyi has also experienced “pain and suffering” based on Alvey’s decision. She claims she suffered from humiliation, frustration, aggravation, anger and depression.
She is seeking compensatory damages, punitive damages and reasonable attorney fees, costs and all other relief to which she may be entitled.
A spokesperson for The University of Cincinnati’s athletic department told Yahoo, he was “unable to comment on the allegations.”
I understand student athletes have to live by certain codes of ethics; but at the end of the day, the University of Cincinnati is a state school, receiving government money. They’re not legally able to dictate the choices of its adult student population like this. Furthermore, they’ll have to give a better reason for terminating Ifeanyi’s scholarship than “racy” Instagram pictures, specifically if other teammates were doing the same thing.