Earlier this season, Prairie View A&M women’s basketball coach Dawn Brown suspended two players on her team because they were dating.
This week, the university announced Brown would not return next season.
Brown told USA Today Sports the university told her she was fired because she violated Title IX by discriminating against the players, even though Brown says the school’s own Title IX administrator approved the players’ suspension.
“Clearly, I feel betrayed and unjustly penalized by this action,” Brown said.
The former players had filed a complaint alleging that their dismissal discriminated against them because of sexual orientation, and violated Title IX. Brown, however, notes that a team rule clearly stated, “Players may not have nonprofessional relationships with other players, coaches, managers trainers or any other persons affiliated” with the team. She said she enacted the rule after an assistant coach had a relationship with a player.
This issue seems headed for court, given the complaints by the players and Brown’s unhappiness with her dismissal (she plans to appeal).
Furthermore, the case could help to clarify the provisions of Title IX, the landmark legislation enacted in 1972 that prohibits sexual discrimination in any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.
According to the Houston Press, Title IX had apparently never been applied to sexual orientation until about three months ago. At that time, a U.S. District Court judge in California ruled that a case involving two Pepperdine University women’s basketball players who had been targeted by their coach for their off-court relationship deserved protection under the law.
Brown guided Prairie View A&M to the 2014 SWAC championship. She posted a 41-51 in three seasons, including a 13-15 mark this season.