Prairie View A&M University announced Wednesday that women’s basketball coach Dawn Brown would not be returning to lead the program next season. But Brown said the HBCU fired her unfairly for allegedly violating a Title IX rule that bans discrimination based on sex at schools receiving funds from the federal government.
Brown suspended two members of the team during the season for dating each other. She maintains the relationship violated a team rule which prohibits teammates from entering romantic relationships, which was instituted before the beginning of the season.
“Players may not have nonprofessional relationships with other players, coaches, managers, trainers, or any other persons affiliated,” with the women’s basketball program, the rule states.
But the two former players filed a complaint saying they were being discriminated against because of their sexual orientation, a violation of Title IX rules, which bans discrimination based on sex.
Brown released a statement, on Coaches Inc., a sports marketing agency that represents athletic coaches, explaining her actions:
“This past August, after a situation involving an inappropriate relationship between a coach and a player that resulted in the termination of the coach involved, I collaborated with my Title IX office in drafting a rule to prohibit non-professional relationships between individuals affiliated with our team.”
She said the decision to remove the players “was extremely difficult for me but was made with consultation, encouragement and approval of my Director of Athletics. The players, she said, were suspended indefinitely but kept their scholarships, and were also punished for unspecified violations.
“Clearly, I feel betrayed and unjustly penalized by this action,” she goes on to say.
However, Brown’s agent, Garry Rosenfield, says she is being treated unfairly.
“The important thing to note is that the rule was not particular to women’s basketball players only,” Rosenfield told the Houston Chronicle. “It was particular to everybody that has a role within the team which includes both women and men.”
Officials at Coaches Inc., said Brown will appeal the termination.
Brown, led the Prairie View Panthers to the 2014 SWAC championship. The team was a 16th seeded team in the NCAA tournament that year, but lost to Connecticut 87-44 in the first round. She was 41-51 in three seasons, including 13-15 in the 2015-16 season, according to SWAC.org.