UConn settles 9-year legal battle with soccer player who flipped off camera and lost her scholarship
UConn has settled a lawsuit filed by a former women's soccer player who lost her scholarship for flashing her middle finger in the direction of a TV camera as the Huskies celebrated winning a conference championship in 2014.
The former student athlete, Noriana Radwan, alleged that the gesture amounted to free speech and she was subjected to harsher punishment than male athletes who violated the school's conduct rules.
Under terms of the settlement disclosed in court Wednesday, Radwan will receive just over $46,000 to cover the cost of her student debt at Hofstra, where she transferred after losing her scholarship. Her attorneys will receive $162,500, according to the settlement.
The school also has agreed to revise its student-athlete handbook to make it clear how long athletes have to appeal the loss of a scholarship.
“One of the issues in this case is there was ambiguity as to when she exercised her right to a hearing and UConn claimed she had missed the deadline by a day,” said Jonathan Klein, Radwan's attorney.
Radwan raised her middle finger toward 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.
The school's coach 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 lawsuit, which was filed in 2016, 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.
Radwan, a midfielder, played in nine games in her lone season playing for the Huskies. She did not have a goal.
The case was originally thrown out of federal court in 2020 before being partially reinstated on appeal.
The settlement was finalized following a hearing Wednesday to deal with a dispute between her attorneys over whether one of them had the authority to enter the settlement agreement without the approval of the other.
Radwan has no comment on the settlement, Klein said.
UConn declined to comment on the merits of the case, but said as a result of the settlement, students will now have a clearer understanding of their rights to appeal a scholarship termination.
“In the (termination) notification letters that are sent to the students it currently states they have 15 days from the date of the letter to appeal,” spokesman Mike Enright said. “Going forward, it will also note the specific date.”