A federal judge has dismissed parts of a lawsuit against Central Michigan University and its women’s basketball coach, who is accused of dropping a scholarship partly because a player isn’t a lesbian.
U.S. District Judge Thomas Ludington did not rule on the merits of Brooke Heike’s claims but said CMU, coach Sue Guevara and other officials have immunity from such legal claims in their official capacity.
Heike lost her scholarship and left the team after the 2007-08 season. CMU says it was because of her attitude and an unwillingness to work hard — not discrimination tied to race, gender or sexual orientation.
Heike, who averaged less than a point a game, has “made numerous unfounded and salacious allegations” to divert attention from “rather mundane facts,” CMU’s lawyers said in a court filing.
Heike’s lawyer, Cindy Rhodes Victor, said she’ll try to get around the immunity issue by filing a second lawsuit against CMU in state court. She said she still can pursue Guevara and athletic director David Heeke in their personal capacities in federal court.
“Does it slow us down? I don’t see that it does,” Victor said of the judge’s ruling. “It just makes for two different lawsuits.”
Messages seeking comment with attorneys for the university, Guevara and Heeke were not immediately returned.
In a lawsuit filed in February, Heike said Guevara told her she wore too much makeup and was not the coach’s “type.” Heike claims that meant she wasn’t a lesbian.
Heike, a prep star at Romeo High School, played in 11 games as a freshman but only six when Guevara arrived for her sophomore season.
An appeals panel upheld the decision to revoke the scholarship after taking testimony from Heike and the coach.
“I didn’t feel that she did anything to improve herself after being told over and over what she needed to do,” Guevara told the committee in June 2008.
Heike remains a student at the school, Victor said.
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