Former Baylor Student Sues over Alleged Retaliation

Andy Berg Headshot

Baylor will have to play defense after a former student filed a lawsuit alleging the school retaliated for her part in a Title IX investigation that preceded the departure of the men’s tennis head coach last year.

The plaintiff, Julia Bonnewitz, came to Baylor in 2017 and was at one time a nationally ranked tennis player. Bonnewitz had hopes of playing on the women’s team but was not given a spot and was encouraged to play club tennis. Bonnewitz would later meet men’s head tennis coach Brian Boland and asked him to help her with joining the women’s team.

Boland responded by asking her to meet him at a bar after midnight, which Bonnewitz felt was inappropriate. He also texted her and told her to “not tell anyone about it.” When Bonnewitz didn’t respond, Boland bombarded her with dozens of text messages.

According to the lawsuit, which was obtained by ESPN, Baylor officials reached out to Bonnewitz on July 17 of 2020, asking her to cooperate with an investigation into "a student who received inappropriate text messages from a staff member."

At the time Bonnewitz told Baylor officials she just wanted to play tennis and was concerned about retaliation. However, she conceded and handed over the text messages. Boland announced his resignation on July 29, 2020.

A month later, Bonnewitz met with senior athletic department officials and asked to try out for the women’s team. She was told at the time that there was not a spot for her and that they only allowed a limited number of walk-ons, and that they had an imbalance of men’s and women’s athletes.

However, the lawsuit states, that the women’s team added two more walk-ons that month. Baylor said in an email to ESON that what the lawsuit refers to as walk-ons were in fact top rated recruits who signed full aid agreements.

Bonnewitz said that no one at Baylor told her that she couldn’t be on the team because of a lack of ability.

"It was the fact that there wasn't even an opportunity to try out, or be evaluated or be considered," Bonnewitz told ESPN. "That was the issue."

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