Hoopsters Sue Dixie State

     SALT LAKE CITY (CN) – Dixie State University forced black basketball players to pray and kicked them off the team for bogus and homophobic sex allegations, two women claim in court.
     Nanea Woods and Austen Harris sued Dixie State University, its athletic director Jason Boothe and its basketball coach Catherria Turner on Wednesday in Federal Court.
     Harris’ attorney, Scott Wood with Arnold & Crook, said he had nothing to add to the complaint, and Woods’ lawyer did not return a call seeking comment.
     Dixie State hired Turner as its head basketball coach in June 2013. Woods says she asked to be released from Dixie State when Turner’s predecessor left. But Turner persuaded her to stay because they had similar backgrounds and that was “a sign from God.”
     Then things got ugly, the women say.
     They claim that Turner’s father, who helped coach and supervise the team, “had repeated physical contact with players, including hugging, during and after practices.”
     Turner, who is African-American, allegedly prohibited players from taking water breaks during practice, during which Woods claims she collapsed and lost consciousness.
     Turner’s father, who is not a party in the complaint, singled out black players, the plaintiffs claim, and accused them of sabotaging games.
     “Turner and her father regularly singled out the African-American players in team meetings, and Mr. Turner repeatedly and publicly referred to the African-American players by racial slurs, such as the ‘Sistas,'” the 44-page complaint states.
     “Mr. Turner told Ms. Harris’ parents during a game that the reason his daughter had been hired as Dixie’s first black coach was to promote diversity. He then said, referring to the African-American players, that the ‘Sistas’ appeared to be sabotaging the games and that they would be gone before his daughter was so ‘they better get in their lane and stop being mad.'”
     Woods and Harris claim that Turner and her father required players to say “hallelujah” and “amen” during team meetings and functions, and to pray before games.
     And they claim: “On one occasion while the team was traveling for a game, Coach Turner forced Ms. Woods and two or three other members of the team to remain on a bus for approximately two hours, with no food or water, while Coach Turner and the remaining players attended church services.”
     They claim that Turner pried into their sex lives, accusing them of “fooling around” and “hooking up,” in front of the entire team.
     Then Turner retaliated when Harris and Woods complained and resisted her attempts to “mischaracterize their friendship as a dating relationship,” the complaint states.
     Woods claims Turner tried to have her removed from non-university housing, and disclosed her private and confidential student files and records.
     And they claim that Turner dismissed all of the black players from the team.
     Dixie State representatives, including athletic director Jason Boothe, did not respond to requests for comment.
     Turner was dismissed by the university in November 2014.
     A recent post on Turner’s Twitter account states: “God has given all of us certain jobs in life and he’s giving us the tools to work with it.”
     Dixie State made headlines in 2013 when the school announced that it would retain its name amid a move to university status.
     Launched by the Mormon Church as St. George Stake Academy in 1911, the school changed its name to Dixie Academy in 1913. The Confederate flag and Rebel mascot were frequently used on the school’s campus from the 1950s to the late 1990s.
     The plaintiffs seek costs and damages for racial discrimination, negligence, privacy invasion, interference with contract, defamation, false light, and constitutional and civil rights violations.
     Woods is represented by Kathryn Steffey with Smith Hartvigsen, Harris by D. Scott Crook with Arnold & Crook.
     Harris’s attorney said he had “nothing to add to the details found in the complaint.”
     Woods’ counsel did not respond to a request for comment.

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