United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS
A. Bolden United States District Judge
Radwan filed this lawsuit pro se on December 19,
2016, alleging that the University of Connecticut and several
of its employees violated her rights under both federal and
state law when they rescinded her athletic scholarship.
Defendants now move to partially dismiss the Complaint.
reasons stated below, the motion is GRANTED in
part and DENIED in part.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Radwan (“Plaintiff” or “Radwan”)
first enrolled at the University of Connecticut
(“UConn”) in 2014 as a full-time student and
recipient of an athletic scholarship to play soccer at the
school. Compl. ¶¶ 8, 10-13. Each of the defendants
in the present case served a function within UConn's
athletic program. Warde Manuel (“Manuel”) was the
Director of Athletics at UConn. Id. ¶ 3.
Leonard Tsantiris (“Tsantiris”) was the head
coach of the women's varsity soccer team. Id.
¶ 4. Mona Lucas (“Lucas”) was the Director
of Student Financial Aid Services and coordinated the
scholarship Radwan received to play for the UConn women's
soccer team. Id. ¶ 5, 11.
her arrival on campus, Radwan alleges she was sent a letter
by Lucas offering a “‘Full Out-of-State
Grant-in-Aid' conditional athletics scholarship.”
Id. ¶ 11. Accompanying the letter was a letter
of intent “providing a good-faith commitment to
attend” UConn and a contract that would govern the
provision of the scholarship. Id. ¶¶
12-13. The contract provided that Radwan would abide by the
rules and bylaws set out by the university and the NCAA.
Id. ¶ 13.
enrolled in UConn and joined the soccer team. Id.
¶ 12. On November 9, 2014, Radwan and the UConn's
women's soccer team traveled to Tampa, Florida, to play
in the American Athletic Conference (“ACC”)
Championship. Id. ¶ 14. UConn defeated the
University of South Florida in penalty kicks, earning an
automatic place in the NCAA Division I championship.
Id. During the celebrations on the field immediately
following the victory, Radwan showed her middle finger to a
television camera, a gesture broadcast on ESPNU online.
later confronted Radwan with a picture of the gesture,
allegedly noting that “it was all over the Internet and
television.” Id. ¶ 15. He then allegedly
told Radwan that he had to suspend her from all team
activities, and prevent her from playing in the NCAA
Championship Tournament. Id. Tsantiris then issued a
press release characterizing Radwan's action as an
“obscene gesture.” Id. ¶ 16. Radwan
alleges, however, that she continued to prepare for the
2015-2016 season, with no indication initially that her
scholarship would be revoked. Id.
December 19, 2014, Tsantiris allegedly called Radwan and
notifed her of the cancellation of her scholarship because of
the incident in Tampa. Id. ¶ 30. On that same
call, Tsantiris allegedly advised her not to attend UConn in
the spring. Id. ¶ 35. In subsequent calls,
Tsantiris allegedly told her she might come back after a
semester away from UConn, but that “if she appealed his
decision that he would not help her transfer to another
school and she would not be given a good
recommendation.” Id. ¶ 37. Radwan then
received a letter from Lucas canceling her scholarship.
Id. ¶ 39.
alleges that, in the years following UConn's revocation
of her scholarship, male student-athletes at UConn have
“engaged in similar acts of unsportsmanlike conduct
without an affect on their scholarships.” Id.
¶ 63. She alleges that these incidents were more serious
than the one at issue in this case, including:
• A football player who kicked a “dead ball”
into the stands in celebration, but was not subject to formal
discipline, id. ¶¶ 64-65;
• A freshman football player who remained on the team
after being involved in a fight, during which five people
were injured and the player was charged with third-degree
assault and second-degree breach of the peace, id.
• Several basketball players who were initially
suspended for violating team rules in a manner “not
known to the Plaintiff at this time” but eventually
reinstated, id. ¶¶ 83-86.
• Several disciplinary incidents involving UConn
athletes obtained through a Connecticut Freedom of
Information Law request, id. ¶¶ 71-73.
alleges that these incidents demonstrate that “UConn
subjected the Plaintiff to a more severe penalty for her
Incident than it did for male student-athletes who were
believed to have engaged in more serious misconduct . . .
.” Id. ¶ 87.
Radwan alleges that Tsantiris went on a recruiting trip
before the incident, and wished to secure the transfer to
UConn of another player. Id. ¶ 40. She claims
that Tsantiris “needed the Plaintiff's grant-in-aid
to complete a full out-of-state scholarship offer he wanted
to make” and that Radwan's “aid was used to
complete” that out-of-state scholarship. Id.
filed the Complaint pro se, alleging that UConn had
violated Title IX, 20 U.S.C. § 1681. Additionally, she
alleged that, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, defendants Manuel,
Tsantiris, and Lucas had violated her First Amendment rights
and her equal protection and procedural due process rights.
Finally, she alleged two state law claims ...