Two volleyball coaches at the University of Oklahoma are arguing in a lawsuit against a former player that they have the right to discipline student-athletes for their political views.
The story comes as former University of Oklahoma women's volleyball team captain Kylee McLaughlin claimed she had been excluded from her team last year for her political views.
The College Fix reports that team coaches Lindsey Gray-Walton and Kyle Walton asked the players to watch the Netflix documentary "13th," which shows the "intersection of race, justice, and mass incarceration in the United States," as The New York Times describes.
According to the lawsuit filed after the showing, McLaughlin "agreed 100% that slavery was wrong," the OU Daily reports. But after that, a nuanced disagreement started between McLaughlin and coaches. The team captain had apparently tweeted that the University of Texas should not get rid of its fight song "The Eyes of Texas." McLaughlin then was urged by coach Lindsey Walton to delete her tweet, alluding that the song was racist.
"I can't save you when you get into the real world when you leave here," Lindsey Walton told McLaughlin.
Kyle Walton, her husband, added, "[I'm] not sure I can coach you anymore."
But according to the lawsuit, by this time, the damage was done. McLaughlin was branded a "racist."
According to the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, even though the coaches brought up politics, they also have the right to dismiss players in the name of "team unity."
"While Plaintiff was free to make bigoted statements," the Waltons' motion states, "she was not free from the consequences of how her teammates perceived those statements. The First Amendment cannot force her teammates to trust Plaintiff or desire to play with her. Consequently, the Complaint makes clear that Coach Walton was within her rights to cultivate a winning 'team atmosphere by ensuring the players that 'trust' each other would be on the court."
Perhaps more damning, the Waltons contend that "as it relates to on court conduct, for example, students are not at liberty to question the decisions of the coach via a First Amendment claim."
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