DES MOINES, Iowa -- Former Iowa State basketball star Nikki Moody has sued coach Bill Fennelly, the university and the state for racial discrimination and retaliation, saying she was repeatedly called a "thug" and labeled a selfish player despite being the program's career assists leader.
Fennelly, who has been Iowa State's coach since 1995, constantly demeaned, berated, harassed and discriminated against Moody during her time with the Cyclones, according to the lawsuit filed in state district court. Moody, who is black, said the discrimination she suffered led to a "hostile education environment through racial harassment."
"Iowa State University has not seen the lawsuit and has no comment," spokesman John McCarroll said.
Fennelly is 447-223 with Iowa State -- which regularly ranks among the nation's top teams in home attendance -- and is signed through 2019 after agreeing to a 12-year, $10.6 million contract in 2007.
Moody, who graduated in 2015 as a four-year starter, said the abuse caused her severe emotional distress and that her complaints to assistant coaches and a senior athletics administrator brought not response.
Moody claims that Fennelly treated white players differently than African-American players and that Fennelly called her a "thug" multiple times throughout her career. Moody said that Fennelly told Iowa State's freshman players that her senior class, made up of Moody and two other African-American players, were "bad influences" and to stay away from them.
Fennelly allegedly told Moody she had "been trying to ruin my life, but I will get the last laugh. I can't wait to tell coaches that call me all the negative things I know about you."
According to Moody, Fennelly also repeatedly demeaned Chassidy Cole, at the time the only black player on the team who was not a freshman, saying she "will end up in prison, just like her mother" and was also a thug.
"No, it's not true," Cole told the Des Moines Register of the allegations. "Did he ever call me a thug? That's coming from Nikki, and I don't want to comment on that and get into a he said, she said thing."
Cole told the newspaper that she was surprised to see her name in the lawsuit.
"I've never taken it as him being a racist or anything like that," Cole said. "It's really sad, because it can really ruin his character and what he's built at Iowa State. A little allegation like that can turn into something really, really, really big,, and it's just sort of sad."
Moody led the Cyclones with 14.5 points and 6.8 assists per game in 2014-15. She was drafted 33rd overall by the San Antonio Stars in the 2015 WNBA Draft but was cut soon thereafter.
The Cyclones struggled without Moody last season, going just 13-17 and missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006.