School says that wasn’t the reason, opens an investigation;
protest, march to campus from City Hall planned on Thursday
By CHRIS HOBBS
A sophomore who played as a freshman and then opted out last season at Lenoir-Rhyne University has made several social media posts that allege her removal from the school’s women’s basketball team was because she spoke out against racism on campus and in the LRU athletic department.
Laney Fox (https://www.facebook.com/laney.fox.52) — who said on Tuesday she is doing remote learning and remains an LRU student – includes comments and also copies of her responses to LRU President Fred Whitt about her concerns.
When contacted by HobbsDailyReport.com, Fox confirmed her Facebook website and that the posts there are ones she made.
On Tuesday, Fox added an item on Facebook calling for the LRU administration to attend a Peaceful Protest at Hickory City Hall on Thursday (see more info about it at Fox’s Facebook page).
The event begins at 11:30 a.m., and Fox — en route to Hickory on Wednesday — will attend. She said a peaceful protest march to the LRU campus from City Hall is planned.
In an interview with WCNC TV-Charlotte that aired Wednesday (https://www.wcnc.com/article/news/local/lenoir-rhyne-womens-basketball-player-cut-alleges-racism/275-3f8121a3-1c86-42eb-aa90-cbbaa2374f02), Fox called for the resignation of Whitt and the women’s basketball coaching staff.
In its report, WCNC said it has twice requested a filmed interview with Whitt and women’s head coach Grahm Smith but the school declined.
Fox lives in Parkland, Fla., is a Detroit native, and played high school basketball at Cardinal Gibbons High (Fla.).
Her statistics for the 2019-2020 season, her freshman year at LRU, were 28 games with five starts and averages of 12 ½ minutes played. She averaged 4.9 points and 2.2 rebounds per game.
Fox is not currently listed on a 20-player roster for Smith, the Bears’ head women’s basketball since April 2020.
In her posts, she said she opted out of last season because of COVID, has continued remote classes from Florida and was last at LRU in November.
Jeremy Zalacca, associate for athletic communications at LRU, provided a link on Sunday (https://www.lr.edu/important-message-to-the-lr-community-20210417) after HobbsDailyReport.com made an e-mail inquiry asking if the school had any comment on the posts by Fox.
In her posts, Fox said:
— She remains a scholarship athlete at LRU for 2021-2022.
— She is one of nine players no longer associated with the women’s basketball team, all forced out after speaking out about social justice and “implicit bias, bigotry and racism in the organization.”
— She has posted a 19-minute transcript of a meeting she said she had with Smith, associate women’s head basketball coach Audrey Timmerman and Aaron Brocks, LRU’s senior associate AD for internal operations.
Fox said she first talked with the women’s basketball staff on March 17 as a normal end-of-season process. In a second discussion on March 25, she was told she would no longer be part of the basketball program.
HobbsDailyReport.com will continue to follow this story.
It’s important to note that the coaching staff and Whitt and Athletic director Pate knew she was being cut. They renewed her entire basketball scholarship for 2021-2022 but cut her from team. Because her money was renewed there is no appeal process. The NCAA does not require an appeal process if you are cut but your money stays intact. There is only an appeal process if money is reduced. What is she suppose to do as an athlete with a junior year renewed but a senior year with no way to get that money renewed as an athlete? They did this assuming she would just leave quietly as the other 8 players left. Earlier in the year their were confrontations with other teammates making bigoted and racist comments and posts. That meeting was held with coaching staff, Emma Sellers, Pate, and Wood. They definitely knew there were issues on the tram. Laney worked with Emma Sellers the Head of Multicultural affairs on the best way to deal with these issues. She was GUIDED by the professionals on campus supposedly equipped to deal with these issues. After the meeting the white players parents complained. They didn’t like that their daughters were being confronted. We now know that Smith hid his intentions to cut all of these girls all year long… and when the time came his reasons were all hypocritical or ambiguous. After the girls compared notes and realized he was repeating this buzz word not buying into to “culture” they began to ask what culture is he talking about? He has never answered that question. These girls all embraced Lenoir-Rhyne’s diverse anti-racist activist culture. It is outrageous that the girls cut from the team are the girls behaving exactly as Lenoir Rhyne emulates snd espouses to be while racist , bigoted players remain. Not all that remain are being called out for bias and bigotry however it is disheartening that some of the girls that remain are not standing up for these women.
It is also important to note that she has a 3.87 gpa and is one of the top athletes on the team. All of the girls cut or forced out or left on their own because they were ghosted by staff or felt unsupported were top athletes and starters on the team. This was a cleaning house of players he labels as divisive and counter culture because he doesn’t want to deal with players that are social justice activists… it makes those white bigoted and ignorant players too uncomfortable.