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Suspended women’s player sues WVU for reinstatement; judge denies it

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A Monongalia County Judge denied a request by suspended West Virginia women’s basketball player Theresa Ekhelar who is seeking reinstatement to play in the WNIT.

A senior center, Ekhelar has missed the Mountaineers’ two WNIT wins over Rider and Villanova, serving what the team called an indefinite suspension.

Her lawsuit, which cited WVU and athletics director Shane Lyons as defendants, claimed Ekhelar was being arbitrarily punished twice by the athletics department.

Ekhelar already served a one-game suspension Dec. 2 against Missouri, was not allowed to start the ensuing game at Pitt on Dec. 8., and was made to undergo anger management and psychological counseling.

That initial punishment stemmed from an alleged Nov. 27 incident between Ekhelar and her intimate partner on a school-sponsored trip, the lawsuit claims. As a result of that investigation, WVU Student Conduct filed a charge of violation of the student handbook. No criminal charges have been filed against Ekhelar as a result of that alleged incident.

Ekhelar sough to prevent WVU athletics from enforcing its suspension until the WVU Student Conduct disciplinary process is completed.

Judge Phillip Gaujot denied the request, said attorney Sean Logue, who represents Ekhelar. Logue declined to comment otherwise.

Gaujot’s order denying the request has not yet been filed.

“She was dismissed for violating team policy,” Lyons confirmed Monday.

April Kaull, of university relations, added: “We are unable to comment on the underlying issue due to student-privacy laws. That said, the university is pleased with the court’s ruling from Friday.”

The lawsuit claims Student Conduct has not suspended Ekhelar and won’t take action until the disciplinary process has been completed, which could be prolonged until after the postseason.

The suit claims that not being allowed to participate in the WNIT would cause irreparable harm to Ekhelar, considering her possible innocence. The 6-foot-6 center has the potential to play the sport professionally, the suit said.

Ekhelar played in 29 games with 28 starts this season, averaging 4.1 points and 4.4 rebounds.





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