Prairie View is down one basketball coach, after firing Dawn Brown. Brown said she was fired for allegedly violating Title IX by enforcing a team rule that she says was approved by the school’s Title IX coordinator.
“Clearly, I feel betrayed and unjustly penalized by this action,” Brown said in a statement to USA TODAY Sports.
Brown said she kicked two players off the team because they were dating, which she said was in direct violation of a team rule she put into place.
“Players may not have nonprofessional relationships with other players, coaches, managers, trainers, or any other persons affiliated” with the program was the rule all players were supposed to follow.
But the players said they were dismissed because of their sexual orientation. In return, they said it violated Title IX, the law that bans discrimination based on sex at schools receiving federal funds.
USA TODAY Sports obtained a memorandum written by Catherine Smock, the school’s special assistant to the president for compliance. It says an investigation found that the players were in fact removed from the team because they were in a dating relationship and that they experienced discrimination because of their sexual orientation. It says the team rule violated Title IX as well as Texas A&M system policy.
Brown said she instituted the rule after an assistant coach was fired for having an inappropriate relationship with a player. Brown said she “collaborated with my Title IX office in drafting” the rule. Brown said the two former players were suspended indefinitely but retained their scholarships and remain at the school. Brown also said the former players were punished for breaking other team rules that she declined to specify.
Brown said the decision to remove the players “was extremely difficult for me but was made with consultation, encouragement and approval” of the athletics director.
Brown’s agent, Garry Rosenfield, said the school gave his client a choice to resign or be terminated for cause. “We definitely think this is a case of scapegoating,” he said.
Brown says she plans on appealing her termination.