Former UConn women's soccer player Noriana Radwan is suing UConn for monetary damages after her athletic scholarship was revoked following a post game incident in November of 2014.
This all stems from an incident in the 2014 American Athletic Conference championship, where after celebrating with the team after winning the title, Radwan gave the middle finger to television cameras which broadcasted her gesture to any and all who were viewing the game on ESPNU and/or WatchESPN.
At the time, head coach Len Tsantiris handled the situation by apologizing to USF, the foe UConn defeated in the game, the American, the media and any viewers, saying she showed “Poor judgement and Sportsmanship.” She was suspended indefinitely for the remainder of the season.
Now, Radwan, who currently plays soccer for Division I Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York, is taking Tsantiris and the school to court for how they handled the situation after the fact. Former UConn, and current University of Michigan, Athletic Director Warde Manuel, Director of Student Financial Aid Services Mona Lucas, and The UConn Board of Trustees are also implicated in the lawsuit.
Radwan had her athletic scholarship taken away from her on Dec. 19, 2014 for the incident but in the complaint filed two years to the date, her attorney, Gregory Tarone, claims UConn violated her due process as well as, “federal violations of Title IX, Constitutional Rights of Equal Protection, Procedural Due Process, and First Amendment freedom of speech, as well as state claims for breach of the Grant-in-Aid scholarship contract and negligent infliction of emotional distress, all arising from the wrongful termination of Radwan's scholarship in the middle of the academic year based upon "serious misconduct.””
“Serious Misconduct”, or NCAA By-Law 188.8.131.52(c), is the premise under which Radwan lost her scholarship. According to a release from her attorneys, it is, “normally reserved for criminal, violent and felonious offenses.”
In a press conference held by Radwan and her legal team yesterday, Tarone said, “The time has finally come to restore Noriana's Voice, and now she will take this occasion to finally be able to speak to the public directly. Noriana and I have expenses ahead and UConn has its Attorney General's office and law firms to represent them. It is not a level playing field, but the merits of Noriana's case will speak for themselves. We plan to go to trial.”
At the time of the incident, Radwan was prohibited from speaking to the media but she took the microphone yesterday to make a statement
“Finally, today I can speak publicly to apologize to the University of Connecticut's student body and administration for my emotional moment of misjudgment.
To my parents, family, friends, and all the citizens of Connecticut and viewers of ESPNU and Watch ESPN that saw the incident, please understand that I did not intend to offend anyone. I was making a celebratory statement that was seriously misinterpreted and misjudged.
I loved UConn, but I lost faith in it as an institution when it allowed my scholarship to be illegally taken away so abruptly and crassly in the middle of the school year, violating all trust I had,” Radwan said.
Among some allegations in the briefing, it notably claims Tsantiris pulled her scholarship in order to recruit Morgan Andrews, a Notre Dame transfer who wound up at USC.
Manuel is brought in as the lawsuit maintains he was aware of Tsantiris’ decision yet did nothing.
It also asserts that Radwan received a notice in the mail from Lucas on Dec. 24 of 2014, notifying her about the loss of scholarship and giving her 14 business days to submit an appeal. The letter was dated Dec. 22. Radwan argues the appeal was sent on Jan. 14. But was denied because it was late by a day or two.
It also claims Radwan was never given a hearing by the disciplinary authority for the general student body at UConn.
Arguably the biggest insinuation is the lawsuit professes a double-standard in treatment for male and female athletes at UConn. It referenced incidents by former UConn football players Andrew Adams and Brian Cespedes, as well as basketball team members, for committing various rules violations of different severity and who did not receive any or a minimal form of punishment.
Monday’s briefing revealed this also is not the only suit in which Radwan is taking on UConn. She also has a claim in Connecticut State Court against UConn Athletic Trainer Catie Dann, for, “her negligent treatment of Noriana's shoulder that was twice dislocated in practice and never treated by a doctor. She had surgery just after transferring to Hofstra, where it popped out again. She was immediately examined and the shoulder was surgically repaired,” according to Tarone.
The cases are separate on merit and evidence, and are being pursued separately. While the suit about the seizure of her scholarship is a federal claim, the lawsuit against Dann will pursued in state court soon. Tarone also said they will also file complaints in regards to Dann with the state’s licensing authority.
Radwan has a 75 percent scholarship at Hofstra and started 17 of their 18 games this year, posting 13 points on six goals and an assist, good for third on the team.
Tsantiris wrapped up his 35th season as the head coach for UConn, guiding them to American Athletic Conference regular season and tournament championships, and garnering his 550th career win in the process.
UConn has yet to release of a public statement on the litigation.