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Former UConn women’s soccer player loses lawsuit against school

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A federal judge ruled against Noriana Radwan, who claimed her punishment was more excessive than male athletes when she was kicked off the women’s soccer team after giving the middle finger on TV.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

A federal judge ruled against Noriana Radwan — the former UConn women’s soccer player who lost her scholarship after she gave the middle finger to a television camera during a nationally-televised game — in a civil rights lawsuit in which she argued she was punished more harshly than male athletes who also broke both school and athletic department rules, according to the Hartford Courant.

After the Huskies defeated USF in the 2014 AAC Tournament championship game in penalty kicks, Radwan — a freshman on the team — turned to a camera capturing the team’s celebration live on ESPNU and made the gesture.

Soon after, then-head coach Len Tsantiris suspended Radwan for the NCAA Tournament and apologized to the AAC, USF and those who saw it on TV. Radwan also apologized in a letter to UConn officials.

Tsantiris then took Radwan’s scholarship away due to “serious misconduct” during the school year, which Radwan claimed was “illegal” and “crass” when she filed the suit in 2016.

She pointed to four incidents in the lawsuit involving male athletes she felt received lighter punishments for worse offenses: Four basketball players were sent home early from Puerto Rico for violating team curfew, a male soccer player accused of theft had to take remedial conduct classes, a football player who got into an altercation at a party also took conduct classes while a football player who punted a ball into the stands during a game only received a 15-yard penalty.

However, US District Judge Victor A. Bolden ruled that Radwan’s offense wasn’t comparable to the male athletes’. He also added that she was the only one to make an obscene gesture on national television during a school event and was the only one to be punished by the conference as well.

After Radwan lost her scholarship and decided to leave, UConn helped her transfer to Hofstra for the ensuing spring semester, where she spent the final three years of her career. Tsantiris retired as head coach following the 2017 season and was replaced by Margaret Rodriguez, the Huskies’ current head coach.