AMES, Iowa – Nikki Moody, the former Iowa State women’s basketball player, is suing head coach Bill Fennelly, the university and the state for racial discrimination.
According to the lawsuit filed Friday in state district court, Fennelly allegedly harassed and discriminated against the former star player. Moody, who is African American, said the discrimination caused a “hostile” environment because of “racial harassment.” She is seeking unspecified damages.
Moody says African-American players were treated differently than white players under Fennelly, citing numerous alleged events throughout her collegiate career.
The lawsuit goes on to say Moody was "constantly demeaned, berated, harassed, and discriminated against. The abuse was so pervasive that Nichole suffered severe emotional distress, which negatively impacted her grades."
Fennelly, who is signed through 2019 after signing a 12-year extension in 2007, has been the head coach at Iowa State since 1995. Moody played for the team from 2011-15 before being selected by the San Antonio Stars with the 33rd overall pick in the 2015 WNBA Draft. She was ultimately cut from the team last May.
On Monday evening, Iowa State University released the following statement in response to the lawsuit:
A lawsuit was filed today in Polk County District Court by Nichole Moody, former member of the Iowa State University women’s basketball team and 2015 Iowa State graduate, against the State of Iowa, Iowa State University and women’s head basketball coach William Fennelly. The suit alleges race discrimination and retaliation. Iowa State University states the following facts:
- The university takes very seriously complaints of discrimination and harassment.
- Approximately one year ago, Moody made complaints to the Iowa State Athletics Department.
- The Athletics Department promptly referred Moody to the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity (EO), which thoroughly reviewed her complaints in the context of university discrimination policies.
- EO conducted a full investigation and was unable to substantiate the complaints of racial discrimination.
- Bill Fennelly has coached women’s basketball at Iowa State since 1995, and is known for his passionate and demanding style of coaching toward all players.
- Iowa State takes issue with the allegations and looks forward to responding in full to the lawsuit as the legal process proceeds.