HOUSTON - Former Prairie View A&M women’s basketball coach Dawn Brown, who was fired in March for removing two players from her team because they were dating, filed a lawsuit Thursday against the school for breach of contract and its athletics director for defamation in Waller County District Court.
The lawsuit is asking for more than $200,000, but less than $1,000,000, in damages, plus attorney's fees.
According to the lawsuit, Brown instituted a team rule forbidding dating between members of her team and staff, and that school officials were notified of the rule.
In the fall of 2015, Brown removed two members of her team for violating the team rule.
After an internal investigation, Brown was fired by the school in March for a violation of Title IX.
According to the lawsuit, Brown did not violate Title IX because the team rule applied to “any and all dating or personal relationships between a man and a woman, a man and a man, and a woman and a woman.”
According to the lawsuit Brown is owed $100,000, (for breach of contract) as stipulated in her contract if she was terminated without cause.
Brown’s lawsuit also alleges that Prairie View A&M athletics director Ashley Robinson made defamatory comments to a University of Houston employee which “damaged and interfered” with Brown’s ability to land a job at UH, and “since being wrongfully terminated and defamed, Coach Brown has been unable to secure another coaching position.”
According to her lawsuit, Brown is also seeking punitive damages, mental anguish in the past and future and loss of an injury to reputation.
“It’s hard when you’re looking to open a new door to move forward and that skeleton is just standing there staring at you, especially when you know that’s not the person that you are,” Brown said in an interview with FOX 26 Sports.
“This investigation I think that was done, it ruined my career. It’s not about money. It’s more (about) earning my name back.
You have to be willing to stand up for what you believe, and for me what I believe is making sure I can clear my name for who I am as a coach.”
Brown’s attorney said his client had no choice but to take legal action.
“We really felt that the only way to clear her name, the only way to potentially get her another job in the community or at another college, is to go and pursue her claims against Prairie View,” said Todd Slobin, Brown’s attorney. “This is one of those cases, it really is, about justice and clearing her name.”
Robinson said he could not comment on the lawsuit.
“I can’t say anything,” Robinson said. “You have to go through the A&M System.
“We can speak on anything like that.”
In three years as head women’s coach at Prairie View A&M, Brown was 41-51.
She led the Lady Panthers to the SWAC Postseason Tournament championship in 2014.
Brown was also part of SWAC Postseason Tournament championships at Prairie View A&M as associate head coach in 2012 and 2013.