BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Canisius College has been named in a lawsuit filed by the family of a former student-athlete. In the lawsuit filed May 31, the family of Tiffany Shania McGhie says their daughter was harassed and bullied at the school and that it ultimately led to her death by suicide.
The family says in the lawsuit, McGhie was harassed throughout the 2019-2020 school year and season, while on the women’s basketball team. The suit claims McGhie was “subjected to relentless verbal abuse, bullying, hazing, unfair and disparate treatment, threats, retaliation, and economic exploitation by Scott Hemer, Jazz Weaver, and other student-athlete members of the women’s varsity basketball team.”
The lawsuit claims McGhie was threatened to be kicked off the team, which would cause her to lose her athletic scholarship.
It claims she was “threatened with the loss of her scholarship and the specific forms of economic support she relied upon not only to attend Canisius College but also to live, eat and support herself on a day-to-day basis.”
The lawsuit also alleges she was forced to seek psychiatric treatment. Then, ultimately on June 2, 2021, she died by suicide.
The suit alleges Canisius failed “to adequately investigate the backgrounds and/or references of those individuals, or ignored information concerning their history of inappropriate, offensive, abusive, bullying and harassing conduct toward student-athletes under their direction, control and supervision.”
It also alleges that a former teammate of McGhie brought the harassment and abuse to the Canisius administration’s attention, but there was no investigation conducted by the school.
“What a nightmare scenario for any parent,” said legal expert Barry Covert, who is not involved in the case but weighed in.
“They are bringing this lawsuit for the negligent hiring and practices of the coaching staff and the harassment of hazing abuse that they permitted her to be subjected to as well as economic distress and also sue the university for wrongful death on behalf of the estate because she is no longer alive unfortunately to do so herself,” Covert said.
Canisius released a statement saying the institution has not been served with a lawsuit and “we do not as an institution comment on matters in active litigation.”
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