A former University of Cincinnati women’s volleyball player claimed in a lawsuit filed last week she was kicked off the team because of photos she posted that her coach said were “too sexy.”
Shalom Ifeanyi, 19, filed the lawsuit against the university and head coach Molly Alvey, alleging racial and sex discrimination. She claimed she was removed from the team last year because she didn’t fit the so-called “biased image” of a Bearcats volleyball player.
The lawsuit also contains screenshots of a text message chain allegedly showing Ifeanyi and Alvey talking about the former outside hitter’s social media postings.
The text messages appear to show Alvey asking Ifeanyi to remove a few pictures from her Instagram account. Ifeanyi then says she feels like she is being “body shamed.”
“I can’t make them go away,” Ifeanyi wrote back, according to Courthouse News. “In these pictures I just got my hair done and I really liked my makeup and thought the pictures were pretty.”
Courthouse News reported that Ifeanyi also felt like she was “being sexualized.”
“There’s a history of black women because of their bodies being sexualized and that’s what appears to be happening to me,” Ifeanyi texts, according to the screenshots. “I can’t help the way I’m built. I am not trying to argue, I just feel like I have to be flat chested or real skinny in order to post.”
Ifeanyi said she deleted the photos but didn’t think it was fair. She was later dismissed from the team in summer 2017.
The former volleyball player is seeking compensatory damages, punitive damages and attorney fees.
She said she filed a complaint with the school’s Title IX Office, but claimed the university hasn’t offered her a chance to appeal the decision to remove her from the team, the lawsuit said.
The school said it had no comment on legal matters.
"I am not trying to argue, I just feel like I have to be flat chested or real skinny in order to post.”
NCAA transfer rules prohibit Ifeanyi from playing volleyball at another school for the 2018-19 season. As a result, she will not have athletic scholarship money to help pay for tuition, according to the lawsuit.
She had already transferred from Oregon State in winter 2017.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.