Federal judge dismisses lawsuit against Detroit Mercy, Bacari Alexander
A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by a former Detroit Mercy basketball player against then head coach Bacari Alexander and the university, claiming that a real-life incident was vulgar but just “locker room talk”.
U.S. District Judge Bernard A. Friedman ruled Wednesday and closed a case filed in July 2019 regarding the incident between Alexander and player Tariiq Jones that resulted in a then mysterious seven-game ban for Alexander in November and December , became widespread in 2017. Alexander was released at the end of the 2017/18 season, only his second on duty.
“Time is best friend with the TRUTH!” Alexander wrote an email to The News on Thursday morning.
In the lawsuit that sought at least $ 100,000 in damages, Jones explained the incident in a November 6, 2017 practice in which Alexander took his own step and asked Jones to “suck my d”.
The lawsuit was filed in the US District Court, Eastern District of the Southern Division of Michigan, alleging that the university violated Title IX legislation and the Michigan Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act. Jones said after the incident that he “struggled academically” forcing him to seek therapy for “embarrassment and shame”. He also alleged that the university did not handle the situation properly.
Friedman disagreed and issued a summary judgment on the Title IX claim, meaning he did not believe there was enough to warrant a lawsuit, and dismissed the other claims.
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“This was simply ‘locker room talk,'” Friedman wrote, “which, while crude and inappropriate, cannot be described as” so severe, ubiquitous, and objectively offensive “as to effectively prevent the victim from accessing educational opportunities or benefits.
“Alexander did not threaten the plaintiff, he did not touch the plaintiff, and he did not propose sex to the plaintiff.”
Friedman’s order allows the case to proceed in a state court if Jones’s attorney so wishes.
Andrew Laurila, Jones’ attorney, said “we are considering our options” for an appeal.
“It’s still disappointing,” said Laurila.
A message from The News for a university attorney and Alexander was not returned immediately.
Jones, a 6-foot-7 forward, played basketball at Macomb Dakota High School, Range College in Texas, and Schoolcraft College in Livonia before moving to Detroit Mercy. He played seven games for the Titans and scored nine on his season debut against Virginia Tech days after the alleged training incident. He averaged 9.7 points and 4.6 rebounds in seven games, but was classified as academically ineligible for the second semester.
Alexander, 44, a native of Detroit and a former Michigan basketball assistant whose hiring was heralded as a huge success for Detroit Mercy, was officially 16-47 years old in his two seasons as head coach, but he did not coach seven of those games during which time he was suspended. He is now an assistant coach at the University of Denver under head coach Rodney Billups, younger brother of ex-Pistons star Chauncey Billups.
Twitter: @ tonypaul1984