HARTFORD, Conn. – A former UConn soccer player who lost her scholarship after giving the middle finger to a television camera plans to sue the school, calling her punishment excessive.
Noriana Radwan, who now plays for Hofstra, has scheduled a news conference for Monday in Newburgh, New York.
She made the obscene gesture to an ESPNU camera while celebrating with teammates after the Huskies beat the University of South Florida 3-2 on penalty kicks in the 2014 American Athletic Conference championship game.
Coach Len Tsantiris initially suspended Radwan from the 2014 NCAA Tournament and issued a statement apologizing to the conference, USF and those who watched the game on television.
In her federal lawsuit, a draft of which was given to The Associated Press, Radwan alleges that after the publicity died down, she was stripped of her scholarship midway through the school year without due process for what the coach described as “serious misconduct.”
“She was never given the opportunity to defend herself, or to appeal the decision in any way,” said Greg Tarone, her lawyer. “They took away her dream and they took away her voice.”
She is seeking monetary damages.
“What she really wants is to make sure something like this does not happen to any other young woman,” Tarone said.
Tarone also said that while Radwan’s offense was regrettable, it hardly rises to the level of “serious misconduct,” and the punishment was much harsher than what male athletes at the school have received for more serious offenses.
He noted the a UConn football player, offensive lineman Brian Cespedes, was not even suspended from his team after being arrested Dec. 10 on misdemeanor assault charges stemming from a September incident that was not public at the time.
“It’s clear from the information I’ve gathered that there have been many other incidents of much more serious misconduct and nobody lost a scholarship over it,” Tarone said.
UConn spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz said the school has not seen the lawsuit and cannot comment on it because of federal privacy laws.
Radwan, a midfielder, played in nine games for the Huskies as a freshman. She did not have a goal.
She transferred to Hofstra, where she is on a partial athletic scholarship. She started 17 games this past season, scoring six goals and adding an assist.
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