Should coaches censor their student athletes' social media accounts?
Shalom Ifeanyi, 19, is suing the college as well as volleyball coach Molly Alvey for booting her from the team, thus ending her athletic scholarship. She alleges racial discrimination, sex discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation, according to Cincinnati.com — her coach reportedly said Ifeanyi's social media presence was "too sexy."
UC Athletics spokesman Ryan Koslen told Cincinnati.com that the college has no comment on the pending legal matter.
Ifeanyi believes that she was removed from the volleyball team because she did not fit the "biased image" of what a player should look like. She says that in June, Alvey pointed to a photo on her Instagram and said: “When football players see this, what do you think they see? They see your breasts. It’s seductive."
A text exchange between Ifeanyi and Alvey ensued, in which the coach asked her to remove specific photos. Below is a screenshot from the lawsuit:
The athlete said that she complained that she was being targeted due to her physique and appearance.
“I feel like I’m being body shamed because I’m not flat chested," Ifeanyi wrote, according to the lawsuit. "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.”
She continued, "There’s a history of 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.”
Alvey did not respond to that text, as Dallas News reports, but the lawsuit alleges that she acknowledged receiving it.
“No such requests were made to other members of the women’s volleyball team who were of slighter build and lighter complexion despite photographs picturing them in outfits, including but not limited to, two-piece swimsuits,” claims the athlete's lawsuit, also noting that Ifeanyi was fully clothed in the pictures.
Ten days later, the athlete was removed from the team because they "had different philosophies," though she was awarded "top performer of the week" by the strength training coach days before. Ifeanyi had previously transferred to the school for a volleyball scholarship. She seeking compensatory damages, punitive damages and attorney fees.
Ifeanyi has currently set her Instagram to private.