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Former Cyclones Standing by Fennelly Following Lawsuit

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AMES, Iowa -- Head coach of the Iowa State University Women’s Basketball team has been hit with a lawsuit by a former player.

Nichole "Nikki" Moody played four seasons at Iowa State and left as the all-time assists leader. Moody was productive, but she also says she was miserable.

Moody is suing head coach Bill Fennelly, Iowa State University and the state for racial discrimination and retaliation.

In November of her senior season, Fennelly suspended Moody for attitude. She returned and led the Cyclones with 15 points and 7 assists a game.

San Antonio picked Moody 33rd in the WNBA draft, that's the third round. She was later cut by the Stars.

The 12-page lawsuit includes 91 points, saying the "defendants treated Nichole and other black women's basketball players differently than they treated white women's basketball players.

"Fennelly called her names, criticized her, made negative comments about her and her family, and alienated her from fans, teammates, staff, and her own parents."

The lawsuit also alleges, "Fennelly called Nichole a ‘thug.’ He told her that ‘everyone’ told him not to recruit her because of her background. He said that he should have listened to them."

It's not all discrimination accusations.

The lawsuit alleges academic advisor Jeff "Sessler made it clear to Nichole that the athletics department only wanted athletes to pursue majors that could be manipulated by athletics staff."

And finally, "throughout Nichole’s time at the university, she was constantly demeaned, berated, harassed, and discriminated against by the defendants. The abuse was so pervasive that Nichole suffered severe emotional distress, which negatively impacted her grades."

Moody seeks unspecified damages.

Iowa State says its equal opportunity office conducted a full investigation and was unable to substantiate the complaints of racial discrimination.

Read Iowa State's full statement

Many we spoke to on the phone said Fennelly is an equal opportunity disciplinarian, though his tough love isn't suited to everyone. Fennelly led Iowa State from empty arena to top five in attendance.

He's 447-223 at Iowa State with 16 NCAA Tournaments, including one Elite 8. ISU has won one Big 12 title and two tournament titles in his years in Ames. Fennelly has a $10.6 million contract that's good through 2019.

Many former Cyclone players took to Twitter and Facebook to support Fennelly with the hashtag #StandbyCoach, including Lyndsey Fennelly, the coach's daughter-in-law.