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Soccer player appeals court ruling on obscene gesture

Associated Press logo Associated Press 7/6/2020

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A former UConn soccer player who lost her scholarship after giving the middle finger to a television camera has taken her case to a federal appeals court.

Attorneys for Noriana Radwan filed a notice to appeal Friday to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit.

They argue the November 2014 gesture amounted to protected speech and that the punishment was both excessive and not in line with discipline meted out to male athletes who violated school policies.

Radwan raised her middle finger to an ESPNU camera while celebrating with teammates after the Huskies beat 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, South Florida and those who watched the game on television.

In her federal lawsuit, Radwan alleged 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 eventually transferred to Hofstra.

Greg Tarone, her attorney, argued that while Radwan’s offense was regrettable, it was protected speech that did not rise to the level of “serious misconduct.” He also argued that the punishment was much harsher than what male athletes at the school had received for more serious offenses, including arrests.

U.S. District Judge Victor A. Bolden, in a decision released last month, agreed with UConn’s argument that Radwan’s offense was not similar to the male athlete’s violations, in part because she was the only athlete to make an obscene gesture on national television at a school event.

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