After speaking up against racism, players released from team

Lenoir-Rhyne University basketball
Laney Fox, a former player for Lenoir-Rhyne University women's basketball team

Allegedly, eight former players for the Lenoir-Rhyne University women’s basketball were kicked off the team for speaking up against racism.

In a new report, the players and manager have filed a lawsuit against the university, Grahmn Smith (head coach), and Fred Whitt, the president of the university. The group is seeking $27 million in damages.

News of the alleged behavior first was exposed in April when former player Laney Fox and team manager Fatou Sall, accused Lenoir-Rhyne of dismissing her from the team following her speaking out against racism after the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

“Laney Fox and team manager Fatou Sall later initiated a symposium for the entire Lenoir-Rhyne University Community dealing with racism and social justice. The women contend that after these events, women’s basketball coach Grahm Smith retaliated against them by kicking them off the women’s basketball team and thus damaging their college basketball careers. University President Frederick Whitt was also sued by Laney Fox for publishing allegedly defamatory statements about her to the Lenoir-Rhyne Campus Community,” the release read.

The university did bring in an outside firm to investigate but the firm found no evidence of a racist culture.

“None of the women’s basketball players would have thought in their wildest dreams that they could be subjected to retaliation, including being kicked off the women’s basketball team for speaking out at the symposium against racism and injustice,” the lawsuit states.

The other plaintiffs on the lawsuit include Nakia Hooks, Ashley Woodroffe, Michaela Dixon, Sydney Wilson, Tamerah Brown, Kennedy Weigt, and Korbin Tipton. The group of former players is being represented by Harold Kennedy who is an attorney out of Winston-Salem.
In addition, the lawsuit states after anti-racism events Smith would retaliate toward Black players and white players who expressed their support. Furthermore, it states Black players on the team felt unwanted at the university and those were players kicked off the team — their scholarships were taken away.

With the women’s scholarships being taken away, the lawsuit also states there was a breach of contract. Each player was verbally recruited to play for the university for four years and be on scholarship/members of the team those four years.