Lawsuit: Canisius College tolerated sexual assault, discrimination against female athletes

In a federal lawsuit, Canisius College is accused of tacitly allowing discrimination against female athletes on the school’s cross-country and track and field teams.

The lawsuit also alleges Canisius ignored reports of sexual assault at college in Buffalo, New York. The administrators allegedly only took action after an athlete was raped.

According to WKBW7, the complaint was filed on behalf of several Canisius athletes by attorneys Lindy Korn, Catherine McCulle and Brian Melber.

“The sexual harassment and discrimination of women athletes on the cross-country / athletics team encouraged a hostile environment that encouraged and condoned other forms of sexual abuse of women athletes, including sexual assault and rape,” the lawyers wrote.

The lawsuit names the defendants:

  • Canisius College
  • Head Coach Nathan Huckle
  • Athletics Director William Maher
  • Former Canisius athlete Donavan Glavin

Plaintiffs allege that Canisius officials had athletes “brought up athletes so they could have sex with them”. The practice, the lawsuit says, was allegedly known as “smoking a girl”.

Legal gavel and books; Image courtesy of
Juice via Pixabay,

“This was a feature of the general male culture on the cross-country / track and field team,” the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit also states that high school students often “give and buy drinks for newbies to get intoxicated in hopes of taking advantage of them once the women are too drunk to consent”. Some graduated male athletes would even “stick to team parties and chase newbies.”

WKBW7 reports that two of the plaintiffs, identified by pseudonyms in court documents, said they were sexually assaulted by Glavin in 2016 and 2017. Each of the victims said they were pressured by head coach Nathan Huckle, who said athletes were expected to attend off-campus parties.

Both women reported the incident and others tried to alert the team coach in 2018 to Glavin’s alleged wrongdoing.

But Huckle allegedly replied simply by saying, “I can’t kick anyone off the team because they’re a donkey.”

In a statement Tuesday, Canisius College officials denied any wrongdoing and said they had investigated reports of sexual assault as well as the complaint against Huckle.

“The allegations made against the coach regarding his alleged bias or preference for certain student athletes over others were found to be completely unfounded,” Canisius College said in a statement.

“The key conduct concerns identified in this lawsuit when first brought to the college’s attention in internal complaints filed in 2018 were promptly and thoroughly investigated and assessed in accordance with applicable college guidelines,” added Canisius added.

In addition to sexual assault and cover-ups, the lawsuit alleges that Canisius granted male athletes special privileges that their female counterparts were not granted. For example, Huckle violated NCAA guidelines by booking more than two athletes into individual hotel rooms and often forcing them to share beds. In contrast, most male “elite” athletes were booked into a room in twos and given single beds.

The lawsuit also states that male athletes were given Nike-branded clothing, but women were not.


Canisius College has been sued for allegedly “allowing male athletes to hunt female athletes”.

The lawsuit accuses Canisius College of allowing rape culture in running teams

Lawsuit alleges Canisius College was discriminated against against female athletes

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