UC Irvine is investigating allegations that water polo player Nina Flynn, an honorable mention All-American in 2022, inappropriately touched opposing players’ intimate body parts during a match last month.
Flynn, a redshirt sophomore, was suspended by UCI’s Title IX office on Feb. 23 after the university received allegations that Flynn touched the intimate body parts of two Loyola Marymount players during a Feb. 16 match, according to Flynn’s attorney.
While Flynn’s suspension was lifted on March 10, the UCI Title IX office is proceeding with a formal investigation of Flynn and the alleged incident, according to Alison P. Saros, Flynn’s attorney, and a university official.
“Nina maintains she is not responsible in any way for the allegations and that after with (the) Title IX (office) and film analysis and other evidence presented the suspension was lifted and she was allowed to return to the pool while the investigation continues,” Saros said.
UCI and LMU officials declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.
UCI head coach Dan Klatt and LMU head coach Ikaika Aki did not respond to requests for comment.
Flynn, the older sister of Stanford and U.S. national team player Jenna Flynn, scored four goals in UCI’s 11-8 victory over LMU. Flynn had an assist in a 17-3 victory against Cal State Fullerton on March 12.
In a show of solidarity with Flynn, Anteater players, over the objections of athletic department and university officials, refused to play in the prestigious Barbara Kalbus Invitational on Feb. 24-26, Saros said. The Kalbus tournament, hosted by UCI, is annually one of the biggest events on the women’s college water polo calendar. This year’s event featured eight of the nation’s top nine ranked Division I teams as well as Pomona-Pitzer, the top-ranked Division III squad.
A parent of one of Flynn’s UCI teammates has started a GoFundMe page to raise money to pay Flynn’s legal expenses.
“A violation under the applicable Title IX Regulations only requires the intentional touching of a Complainant’s intimate body part(s) without consent, whether clothed or unclothed,” David Tedesco, an attorney who created the GoFundMe page, wrote. “An intimate body part is defined as the genitals, anus, groin, breast, or buttocks. There are no exceptions. With a definition so broad, every water polo game, male or female, is full of such Title IX violations.
“Based upon these accusations, UCI could expel Nina from UCI and refer the matter for criminal prosecution, or exclude her from the UCI women’s water polo team, among other sanctions. In addition to the 2023 season, Nina has two more seasons of NCAA eligibility left.
“Nina and the rest of the UCI women’s water polo team vehemently deny these accusations and are determined to not only fight for Nina’s innocence, but also for the integrity of water polo. If a Title IX investigation becomes the forum for alleged game time transgressions, chaos to all water polo programs will result.”
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