A former Appalachian State football player has sued the university over his 2012 suspension from the team following allegations of sexual assault.
Lanston Tanyi is among five male ASU students, including four football players, who were accused by two female ASU students of rape and sexual assault in separate off-campus incidents in 2011. He was briefly suspended from campus while university conduct hearings were held. A university conduct board found him not responsible for the more serious charges of sexual misconduct but did find him responsible of harassment, resulting in a sanction barring him from playing for ASU athletics.
None of the accused were criminally charged in the incidents.
Tanyi filed a complaint in U.S. District Court Oct. 17, alleging that ASU violated his rights of due process and equal protection under the 14th Amendment and discriminated against him based on gender in violation of the federal Title IX law.
“Plaintiff has suffered considerable emotional distress, loss of present and future earnings, humiliation and incalculable damage to his reputation with the NFL and others when he was forced to leave ASU to pursue his final year of football,” the complaint stated.
Tanyi’s complaint asserts that the university’s finding of harassment stemmed from “the way he looked at (his accuser) on campus.”
Tanyi, who now resides in Colorado, seeks a jury trial, compensatory damages and punitive damages from the three administrators. The complaint also seeks that all records related to the suspensions, sanctions and incomplete grades be expunged. He is represented by Tin Fulton Walker & Owen PLLC of Charlotte.
The complaint names ASU, the University of North Carolina system, and ASU administrators Cindy Wallace, Judith Haas and Lori Gonzalez as defendants. Wallace is the vice chancellor for student development, Haas is director of the Office of Student Conduct and Gonzalez was the provost at the time of Tanyi’s suspension.
All defendants are represented by Stephanie Ann Brennan of the N.C. Attorney General’s office, according to court documents. The court granted an extension of time for ASU to file an answer to the complaint, setting a deadline of Dec. 22.
ASU spokesman Hank Foreman did not respond to an email seeking comment on Tuesday.
Tanyi came to ASU from Shelby and played in 14 games his freshman year at App, starting in nine. He played in 13 and started nine games his sophomore year, then he was injured and redshirted during the 2010 season. Tanyi played in four games in the 2011 season and was suspended from several games for disciplinary reasons.
In 2012 Tanyi attended summer classes at ASU to complete the unfinished course work he needed to graduate and then applied to a graduate program at Colorado State University, where he played his final year of eligibility and was named Most Valuable Player, according to the complaint.
Tanyi went undrafted by the NFL in 2013 but attended rookie minicamps with the Washington Redskins and Denver Broncos, according to media reports. Tanyi signed with the Broncos in 2013 but did not make the 53-man roster.
Sports Editor Steve Behr contributed reporting to this article.