Women’s Basketball Coach Fired After Suspending Two Players For Dating Each Other

March 28, 2016  |  

There’s an interesting story surrounding Prairie View A&M Women’s Basketball coach Dawn Brown. Brown was fired after she suspended two of her players for dating one another. The girls filed a complaint, saying her decision to suspend them was a violation of their Title IX rights.

But Brown’s decision to suspend the players was a result of a team rule that prevented players from having nonprofessional relationships with players, coaches, managers, trainers and any other person affiliated with the program.

Brown said the rule was put into place after an assistant coach was fired for having an inappropriate relationship with a student. Coach Brown says that she enforced the rule with support from the school’s Title IX coordinator, who told her suspending the two players would not be an issue.

Brown said the decision to suspend the players was extremely difficult “but was made with consultation, encouragement and approval” from the athletic director.

But when the punishment was issued, Brown was eventually fired.

In a statement to USA TODAY, Brown said, “Clearly, I feel betrayed and unjustly penalized by this action.”

The two suspended players were able to retain their scholarships and remain at school. They did say that the suspension was based on their sexual orientation and not on the violation of the dating rule. Still, they claim that the dating rule itself violates Title IX as well as the Texas A&M system policy.

Brown, who had enjoyed four consecutive SWAC titles with the team, says she plans on appealing the decision.

With the limited information we have, this story is not as cut and dry as it sounds. While the rule itself is a bit unrealistic and in violation of Title IX rights, I wonder if the two players signed contracts stating that they would adhere to it. I also wonder who created the rule in the first place and why didn’t the Title IX coordinator review it before players signed it or tell Brown that her decision to suspend the two women was indeed a violation of their rights? It certainly looks discriminatory, plus there’s no ethical violation in teammates dating one another, like there is when a coach, an authority figure dates a player. It would be the equivalent of telling all students when they set foot on campus that they’re not allowed to date anyone in any of their classes. If these students are around one another, with as much frequency as collegiate athletes are, it’s likely that an attraction and eventual relationship would develop.

And these two players shouldn’t have been penalized for this.

I don’t know if Brown should have been fired as a result. I guess that depends on the conversations she had with the players and how she treated them beforehand.

What do you make of this story? Should the two players have been suspended? Should Brown have been fired?

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