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South Coast University Hit By Lawsuit Over Social Media Incident Involving Sports Team

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Suit claims actions by California Lutheran University damaged reputations of players and coaches.

A slander and libel lawsuit has been filed against a South Coast university, and some current and past administrators, over an incident which the college considered to be a case of cultural appropriation.

The suit was filed against California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks on behalf of 24 members of the women’s softball team and three coaches.

Some members of the team wore wigs, phony facial hair and hip-hop clothing as they lip-synced the theme for the TV show The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air. Images were shared on social media.

The suit claims university officials portrayed what occurred as “blackface.” The students insist it wasn’t “blackface.” The players say they issued an apology anyway, which they contend the administration didn’t share with the campus.

The suit names the university’s past president, as well as one administrator no longer with Cal Lutheran, as well as one still with the campus.

The action seeks financial compensation, claiming what occurred caused mental stress and damaged the reputations of the students and coaches. The suit asserts that while the university didn’t specifically name the team involved, everyone in the campus community knew about the situation. It says some of the players were bullied because of what some interpreted as racism.

Cal Lutheran issued a statement saying the suit is riddled with misstatements, falsehoods and erroneous interpretations. University officials say they look forward to defending themselves and correcting the record in court.

Cal Lutheran is the parent of KCLU Radio.