A former University of Maryland field hockey player is suing the head coach and the senior associate athletic director for $1.5 million for allegedly forcing her to suppress her homosexuality while she was a member of the team.
Vicki Yost, who played for the Terps from 1988-1992, claimed coach Missy Meharg, under the instruction of senior associate athletic director Sue Tyler, told her in a meeting on Feb. 17, 1990, specifically not to go to gay clubs, not to accept rides from her girlfriend and to instruct her girlfriend not to visit campus.
A hearing on the suit, which claims Yost's First Amendment rights were suppressed, will be held on April 18 in U.S. District Court.
The complaint also says Meharg called homosexuality "a bad lifestyle" and told Yost to stop "appearing like a boy." Yost said this treatment hindered her process of publicly expressing her homosexuality.
"It made me question myself," Yost said. "Coming out when you are young is hard enough. But when people you respect are putting you down, it's that much harder."
Meharg could not be reached for comment.
Tyler said: "It's a shame. I've been here 20 years at Maryland and you get one person who is unhappy. We win the national championship and get a minimal amount of press. Then one kid is unhappy about something involving her First Amendment right being compromised and you get all this attention. It's real unfortunate but I believe we are innocent."
The complaint said that Yost's scholarship was cut from $2,500 to $1,800 from her junior to senior years after telling Meharg that she was a homosexual.
A player who knew Yost for two years but spoke under the condition of anonymity said Meharg did not mistreat Yost.
"She was an emotional player and had an attitude," said the player. "When the ball didn't come to her right, she would throw a temper tantrum. If that was anyone else but Vicki, Missy would have been furious."
But Yost contends that the players are supporting Meharg simply because she is the coach.
"The coach sets the tone for the players and rarely do the players act different from the coach," Yost said.
Yost said her goal is to help future players in her situation.
"I would hope that the University of Maryland can gain some leadership and allow everyone to express themselves publicly and emotionally without interference," said Yost, who claimed she twice had to chose between playing on the team over participating in the Gay and Lesbian Speakers Bureau.
State's Attorney Carmen Shepard said she doesn't expect Yost to win.
"It's a slam dunk and we win. No doubt about it," she said. "It's simple. They claim abusement but they can't prove it."