Dawn Brown, the women’s basketball coach for Prairie View A&M, says she was fired for suspending two players who were dating. Brown insists her decision was fair and not intended to discriminate based upon sex, which would be in violation of Title IX.
The team’s rule prevented players from having nonprofessional relationships with other players, coaches, managers, trainers, or any other persons affiliated with the program.
Brown says the rule was put in place after an assistant coach was previously fired for an inappropriate relationship with a student. The coach says she enforced a rule with support from the school’s Title IX coordinator and was told there was no issue.
According to Brown the decision to suspend the players was extremely difficult “but was made with consultation, encouragement and approval” of the athletics director.
“Clearly, I feel betrayed and unjustly penalized by this action,” Brown said in a statement to USA TODAY Sports.
The two players who were suspended retained their scholarships and will remain at the school. After their dismissal from their team, they filed a formal complaint saying the suspension was based upon their sexual orientation. The dating rule, they claim, violated Title IX as well as Texas A&M system policy.
Many remaining players on the team have expressed shock over the decision.
“It’s a dramatic loss,” said Larissa Scott, a Prairie View A&M senior. “Everybody was expecting her [Brown] to come back next year doing bigger and better things especially with the new team she had coming in.
Brown had led the team to a fourth consecutive SWAC title and helped the Lady Panthers appear in the NCAA Tournament in 2014 as an interim coach. She says she will appeal the firing decision.