Former OU volleyball player sues over exclusion from team

Coachster

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https://amp.oklahoman.com/amp/7508610002

I think we're going to be seeing more of this.

She feels she was branded a racist and excluded because of her right-wing political views. Of course, her racist views are right there in the lawsuit for everybody to see.

What do our resident lawyers think about her chances of actually winning this thing?

She sounds like a peach.

EDIT: Here's the whole lawsuit. View: https://www.scribd.com/document/510457300/OU-volleyball-player-sues-coaches-board-of-regents#from_embed
 
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SoxJox

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I'm missing something here. Can you point exactly and explicitly to where her "racist views" are evident? I see a lot of legalese and language, but I don't see it.
 

jose melendez

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IANAL, but I skimmed it, and she kind of seems like a shitty person who no one likes, but if her version of events is correct, it sort of seems like she got treated unfairly. I wonder if the righties really want to open this can of worms. It would make it pretty hard to discipline anthem kneelers.

That said, I love people who claim leadership skills despite the fact that everyone wants them to go away.
 

DJnVa

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I'm missing something here. Can you point exactly and explicitly to where her "racist views" are evident? I see a lot of legalese and language, but I don't see it.
She said she's conservative.
 

PC Drunken Friar

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She said she's conservative.
She uses far right buzz words to defend her beliefs. She's a snowflake that got called out for her lifestyle that doesn't fit with her teammates. She was given multiple fair options and chose to play the victim.
 
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Rwillh11

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She uses far right buzz words to defend her beliefs. She's a snowflake that got called out for her lifestyle that doesn't fit with her teammates. She was given multiple fair options and chose to play the victim.
I guess the thing is, if she has far right political views, or a "lifestyle that doesn't fit with her teammates", and that is why she got booted from the team/pushed to transfer, I would imagine she also has a pretty strong case. However, the filing from her side is obviously going to paint her in a positive light and it is very possible (probable?) there is more to it than what is in the document. But you can't kick someone off the sports team at a public university for having conservative (but, unfortunately imo, mainstream) views on race and sexuality.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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Apparently, when ESPN ran its story on the Eyes of Texas, she tweeted the article with a skull and crossbones emoji and a laughing clown emoji. She then called the UT VB team to apologize. https://www.oudaily.com/sports/ou-volleyball-former-sooner-setter-kylee-mclaughlin-suing-program-over-exclusion-says-team-branded-her/article_b89e4d86-c4d2-11eb-94cd-4fb0cfe8afb0.html

She transferred to Ole Miss. She's going to have a hard time proving damages IMO. However, looks like she could have a super lucrative career on the MAGA-talk circuit.
 

PC Drunken Friar

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I guess the thing is, if she has far right political views, or a "lifestyle that doesn't fit with her teammates", and that is why she got booted from the team/pushed to transfer, I would imagine she also has a pretty strong case. However, the filing from her side is obviously going to paint her in a positive light and it is very possible (probable?) there is more to it than what is in the document. But you can't kick someone off the sports team at a public university for having conservative (but, unfortunately imo, mainstream) views on race and sexuality.
Is this true? I mean, they were not going to take away her scholarship. If an athlete is a clubhouse cancer (for whatever reason), can't the coach boot a player off the team? I understand there is a slippery slope argument that can be made and if the viewpoints were reversed, I would maybe feel slightly differently. But at the same time, can't a University say that their athletes are representing the institution and publicly going against the University's mission/goals/whatever allows them to dismiss her?

Speech has consequences. She publicly enraged many of her teammates.
 

Morgan's Magic Snowplow

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I don’t have much sympathy for her but I do actually question why the coach is forcing his team to watch movies with strong political perspectives as some kind of bonding exercise.
 

Delicious Sponge

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This is an almost comically poorly-written complaint.

And incredibly ill-advised. The response to this complaint is going to fill in the other side of this story, which already sounds pretty bad for her (3 schools in 3 years, in spite of how good she is at volleyball?).

If she’s actually worried about her reputation, this isn’t a good move at all.
 

moondog80

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She's a snowflake that got called out for her lifestyle that doesn't fit with her teammates.
I mean, this is absolutely horrible, on many levels. Are you going to be OK with this standard when people who don't share your worldview are the ones applying it?
 

Steve Dillard

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Yes, it's a bad combination of provoking polarizing discussion, then punishing for somewhat benign opposition to the view being pushed by the coaches.

That said, college coaches are largely idiots, and can cut players for all sorts of arbitrary reasons. I guess plaintiff accepts that, but didn't want to be slandered on the way out the door.

Maybe we go back to the "don't ask, don't tell" model.

I follow college hockey, and it seems from the social media of the players, its a bastion of Trumpies. I need to stop following some of them, hence my "don't seek out info you don't want to know" moto.
 
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PC Drunken Friar

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I mean, this is absolutely horrible, on many levels. Are you going to be OK with this standard when people who don't share your worldview are the ones applying it?
I addressed this. I recognize that I may feel different. If that makes me a hypocrite, so be it. But if say an athlete at Liberty tweeted out pro-choice memes and mocked pro-life accounts, I would expect that yes, Liberty would probably get rid of that player. (And i understand its not apples to apples, given Liberty's private school nature) I don't think this is setting some precedence. I think it happens sometimes with clubhouse cancers.
 

Fratboy

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IANAL, but this is an oddly worded complaint. Why is WOKE always capitalized? Is it an acronym I wasn't aware of?
 

Ale Xander

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She publicly enraged many of her teammates.
Bingo. She should have been excluded just for not understanding how the team dynamics and chemistry work for a volleyball team. This isn't baseball/softball, let alone something like tennis. There is no "right field" for volleyball.
 

fairlee76

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Fayetteville is a lot more "woke" than Norman.
Yeah. A friend is a prof there and loves it. But def an outlier town in that state.

I adopted a hound from a shelter in Rogers, AR last May. It was as though COVID wasn’t a thing. Minimal mask-wearing and all that. It’s like West Va to me - beautiful country with a lot of humans who wish it was still 1953.
 

McBride11

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IANAL. What "right" does she have to be on this team? A coach can remove a player for any reason they deem appropriate. Their job is to build the best 'team' - if someone doesn't add into that for whatever reason they can be cut. Playing college sports isn't some constitutional right.
 

jsinger121

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IANAL. What "right" does she have to be on this team? A coach can remove a player for any reason they deem appropriate. Their job is to build the best 'team' - if someone doesn't add into that for whatever reason they can be cut. Playing college sports isn't some constitutional right.
She was a first team all Big 12 in 2018 and 2019 and before that was the PAC-12 freshman of the year at Oregon State. I’d say she’s pretty qualified to be on the team and be a significant contributor.
 

McBride11

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She was a first team all Big 12 in 2018 and 2019 and before that was the PAC-12 freshman of the year at Oregon State. I’d say she’s pretty qualified to be on the team and be a significant contributor.
Maybe she didn't fit the team's style? They had someone better at her position?

"Locker room cancers" get moved all the time in pro sports or lose their jobs even if they are good, can they sue too? And if the response is about CK - he got settled for collusion, this player found another playing gig so it doesn't apply as far as I can tell. CK was generally supported by players as far as I can tell ergo not a cancer.

Is it ideal to remove a player for their personal views? No. But if the coach feels this impacts team chemistry I can't understand the reasoning or suit. And , as pointed out, now on 3rd team despite being 'a great player.'
 
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mauf

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I mean, this is absolutely horrible, on many levels. Are you going to be OK with this standard when people who don't share your worldview are the ones applying it?
Bear in mind that a legal complaint tells only one side of the story. I will be interested to hear what her former coaches and teammates have to say.

Even in this one-sided account, it sounds like whatever she said to her teammates was bad enough that one of them called her a racist on social media. From the complaint, it sounds like she brought this to her coaches’ attention and expected corrective action, so she implicitly acknowledges that college athletes don’t have an unfettered right to speak in ways that are detrimental to the team.

She was apparently so unchastened by this experience that soon after she decided it was appropriate to post a skull-and-bones emoji in reference to the controversy about “The Eyes of Texas” at UT-Austin. Again, this is her story, written by her lawyer, so it presumably casts her in the most favorable light possible. If there was an innocuous explanation for her use of the skull-and-bones imagery, one would expect the complaint to advance it; its silence on this point is telling imo.

Basically, I’m a lot more sympathetic to this young woman’s teammates (especially the Black women on the team) than I am to her, even based on her own version of events. I’m not sure why you are reflexively taking the opposite stance and concluding that what happened to this young woman was “horrible, on many levels.” It is by no means clear to me that this is the case.

Edit: Also worth noting that OU volleyball has a majority white roster and an all-white coaching staff. I suppose it’s possible that the volleyball program is a sleeper cell bent on forcing us all to accept critical race theory, but other explanations seem more plausible.
 
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moondog80

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Bear in mind that a legal complaint tells only one side of the story. I will be interested to hear what her former coaches and teammates have to say.

Even in this one-sided account, it sounds like whatever she said to her teammates was bad enough that one of them called her a racist on social media. From the complaint, it sounds like she brought this to her coaches’ attention and expected corrective action, so she implicitly acknowledges that college athletes don’t have an unfettered right to speak in ways that are detrimental to the team.

She was apparently so unchastened by this experience that soon after she decided it was appropriate to post a skull-and-bones emoji in reference to the controversy about “The Eyes of Texas” at UT-Austin. Again, this is her story, written by her lawyer, so it presumably casts her in the most favorable light possible. If there was an innocuous explanation for her use of the skull-and-bones imagery, one would expect the complaint to advance it; its silence on this point is telling imo.

Basically, I’m a lot more sympathetic to this young woman’s teammates (especially the Black women on the team) than I am to her, even based on her own version of events. I’m not sure why you are reflexively taking the opposite stance and concluding that what happened to this young woman was “horrible, on many levels.” It is by no means clear to me that this is the case.

Edit: Also worth noting that OU volleyball has a majority white roster and an all-white coaching staff. I suppose it’s possible that the volleyball program is a sleeper cell bent on forcing us all to accept critical race theory, but other explanations seem more plausible.
I was referring specifically to the comment that the player was "called out for her lifestyle that doesn't fit with her teammates", and not what happened to anyone on the OU volleyball team.
 

mauf

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I was referring specifically to the comment that the player was "called out for her lifestyle that doesn't fit with her teammates", and not what happened to anyone on the OU volleyball team.
Gotcha. I thought you were reacting to the actual story, rather than to PC’s reaction to the story, which was obviously intended to be cheeky.
 

Joe D Reid

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Is this true? I mean, they were not going to take away her scholarship. If an athlete is a clubhouse cancer (for whatever reason), can't the coach boot a player off the team? I understand there is a slippery slope argument that can be made and if the viewpoints were reversed, I would maybe feel slightly differently. But at the same time, can't a University say that their athletes are representing the institution and publicly going against the University's mission/goals/whatever allows them to dismiss her?

Speech has consequences. She publicly enraged many of her teammates.
There is no right to participation on a collegiate sports team, pretty damn near period end of sentence. The coach and AD have near-total discretion on who to dress and who to play. Depending on the situation, there could be economic damages (lost scholarship, loss of future professional revenue), but those can either be mitigated by the school (scholarship) or are very hard to prove.

tl;dr: This isn't a lawsuit, it's a press release.
 

reggiecleveland

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This is not an easy one for me. I don't know what she did to have her teammate call her a racist. It shouldn't be assumed such complaints are always justified. This type of complaint can really damage a person, and cannot be taken lightly.

In terms of a legal argument, I agree with Joe D Reid, that their is no right to be on a team.

As a coach my take is she is not a good enough player to put up with the distractions, but probably good enough for a new coach to give her a chance. Even "Saint John" Wooden ended up saying, "But you're not as good as Lew/Bill" when players complained Lew Alcindor and Bill Walton got away with more than they did.
 

mauf

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This is not an easy one for me. I don't know what she did to have her teammate call her a racist. It shouldn't be assumed such complaints are always justified. This type of complaint can really damage a person, and cannot be taken lightly.
I agree. But that isn’t what’s happening here.

In addition to her teammate’s report, we have her subsequent inarticulate comment on the “Eyes of Texas” controversy. Would a person who was wrongly accused of racism soon after glibly post emojis in response to a racially charged controversy? Would she then hire a ridiculous attorney who uses the word “WOKE” in all caps in a legal complaint? We are reacting not to a single report, but a constellation. And remember, we only have the self-appointed victim’s story — it’s not going to get better for her when we hear from her former coaches and teammates.
 

wade boggs chicken dinner

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I agree. But that isn’t what’s happening here.

In addition to her teammate’s report, we have her subsequent inarticulate comment on the “Eyes of Texas” controversy. Would a person who was wrongly accused of racism soon after glibly post emojis in response to a racially charged controversy?
IIRC, she also had to call the UT VB players to apologize after posting the emoji so it's not like she didn't think she did anything wrong.
 

reggiecleveland

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I agree. But that isn’t what’s happening here.

In addition to her teammate’s report, we have her subsequent inarticulate comment on the “Eyes of Texas” controversy. Would a person who was wrongly accused of racism soon after glibly post emojis in response to a racially charged controversy? Would she then hire a ridiculous attorney who uses the word “WOKE” in all caps in a legal complaint? We are reacting not to a single report, but a constellation. And remember, we only have the self-appointed victim’s story — it’s not going to get better for her when we hear from her former coaches and teammates.
I am not a fan of this kid. This complaint, as a best case for her, IMHO ends with coaches saying she was not a very good player, and detailing her deficiencies as a player, that lead to her not getting playing time at 3 schools.

I am just stating a hypothetical that I could see a person getting hurt by a single complaint.
 

Average Reds

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IANAL. What "right" does she have to be on this team? A coach can remove a player for any reason they deem appropriate. Their job is to build the best 'team' - if someone doesn't add into that for whatever reason they can be cut. Playing college sports isn't some constitutional right.
Athletic scholarships typically renew annually. So long as the coach allows the player to finish their year of school, they have complete discretion about renewing it and/or dropping athletes from the team.

The unfairness of this level of control is why the NCAA significantly relaxed the rules governing transfers, which this woman seems to have taken advantage of frequently.

She was a first team all Big 12 in 2018 and 2019 and before that was the PAC-12 freshman of the year at Oregon State. I’d say she’s pretty qualified to be on the team and be a significant contributor.
Patrick Reed was unquestionably the most talented player on a Georgia golf team that included a bunch of (current) touring pros. He was forced to transfer to Augusta State because it was suspected (but not proven) that he was stealing from the locker room and that he cheated on the course. What they did know for certain was that, despite his talent, he was a cancer on the team. And so he was advised to transfer or be dropped. (Of course, he promptly led this new team to two NCAA championships, beating Georgia in the finals his senior year, so that didn't really work out for Georgia.)

The point is that major college coaches in all sports have the right to drop highly qualified, talented players if they feel they are a detriment to the program.
 

mauf

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The point is that major college coaches in all sports have the right to drop highly qualified, talented players if they feel they are a detriment to the program.
That probably doesn’t extend to a coach at a public university dropping an athlete because of her political speech. I’m skeptical that’s what happened here, but that’s why they are in court. And I suspect it’s why her lawyer downplayed whatever his client said that caused her teammate to call her out on Twitter (because that’s probably not protected) and focused instead on her post about the controversy over “The Eyes of Texas” (because that clearly is). Though it’s certainly possible I’m giving her lawyer too much credit.
 

Average Reds

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That probably doesn’t extend to a coach at a public university dropping an athlete because of her political speech. I’m skeptical that’s what happened here, but that’s why they are in court. And I suspect it’s why her lawyer downplayed whatever his client said that caused her teammate to call her out on Twitter (because that’s probably not protected) and focused instead on her post about the controversy over “The Eyes of Texas” (because that clearly is). Though it’s certainly possible I’m giving her lawyer too much credit.
You are giving the lawyer (and the complaint) far too much credit.

The public university issue is something of a red herring. Literally all the coach has to do is to is to claim that she didn’t get along with her teammates and the discord was detrimental to the team and there’s no there there. Considering that OU was her second college team, she’s going to have a difficult, if not impossible, time demonstrating that this statement was/is false.

When one considers the political signaling in her complaint, it also seems obvious that this isn’t a serious attempt to win the lawsuit. It’s an attempt at martyrdom.
 

Doug Beerabelli

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I wonder what the analysis of the case is if she was kicked off team for a combination of "good" reasons and "bad" reasons. "Good" meaning justifiable without legal recourse, "bad" meaning in violation of constitutional rights or other law. Perhaps it's left to the factfinder (judge or jury) to decide. As part of that, perhaps the applicable law indicates that if there's a singular neutral justification for the firing, any "bad" reasons don't matter (that might be a jury instruction type thing) -- or the other way around.
 

mauf

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I wonder what the analysis of the case is if she was kicked off team for a combination of "good" reasons and "bad" reasons. "Good" meaning justifiable without legal recourse, "bad" meaning in violation of constitutional rights or other law. Perhaps it's left to the factfinder (judge or jury) to decide. As part of that, perhaps the applicable law indicates that if there's a singular neutral justification for the firing, any "bad" reasons don't matter (that might be a jury instruction type thing) -- or the other way around.
I’m not a First Amendment lawyer by a long shot, but I’d be surprised if the analysis differs from other mixed-motive discrimination cases.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, here’s a quick primer.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mixed_motive_discrimination