MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — New defendants and plaintiffs have been named in a lawsuit claiming abuse within the University of South Alabama’s volleyball team from 2019-2020.
This amended version claims the university was aware of the issues within the program and failed to take adequate steps to address the situation and protect its student-athletes. It also names new plaintiffs and defendants.
A new allegation says coach Alexis Meeks Rydell forced players to “cuddle” with her in hotel rooms during away games. Allegations from the original lawsuit were that she had pinched players’ buttocks, at least one instance of slapping a player in the face, regular overtraining, coercion to practice or play while injured and other forms of physical and verbal abuse.
“It’s Just more of the picture of what we already knew existed. It’s pretty extensive, it’s pretty graphic what these women were put through,” Diandra “Fu” Debrosse Zimmermann, one of the attorneys representing the players, said.
As well as these new claims of abuse, six new alleged victims came forward.
“They’re just additional women who’ve come forward to say, ‘We suffered some of the same things, and we also suffered different things,’ but all involving both physically and emotionally abuse,” Zimmermann said.
The added defendants include associate athletic director Chris Moore and current senior associate athletic director Jinni Frisbey. The complainants say the university knew what was happening — parents complained to the University about the coach, and other members of the athletic department were present when the alleged abuse was taking place.
The complaint also states the university coerced one of the students to write a fraudulent letter to the NCAA to cover up its knowledge of the situation.
“I think these women want justice, they want to make sure other athletes don’t go through what they’ve gone through, they want what they’ve gone through to be acknowledged they want changed practices at the university, and they hope that other universities and institutions of higher education take the protection of their athletes seriously,” Zimmermann said.
WKRG News 5 reached out to the university about these new claims, and they said they would not be providing a comment at this time.