The lawsuit Dez Wells filed against Xavier University in August has progressed with little fanfare. On Oct. 2, 2013, Xavier filed a motion asking the court to dismiss eight of the original complaint’s 10 claims, according to legal documents obtained by the Washington Post.
The school declined to address Wells’ first two claims for relief, which alleged a breach of contract, citing the university’s student handbook, and the “intentional infliction of emotional distress” that Wells alleges resulted from his expulsion amid sexual assault allegations in the summer of 2012.
The local prosecutor did not deem those allegations worthy of criminal prosecution, but Wells nonetheless was kicked out of his “dream school” before transferring to Maryland, where the NCAA immediately ruled him eligible and he became the Terrapins’ vocal leader.
Both sides currently await a discovery conference to schedule depositions, as well as a hearing for Xavier’s motion to dismiss, according to Wells’ attorney, Peter Ginsberg.
The New York-based lawyer filed an opposition to Xavier’s dismissal motion on behalf of Wells, arguing that, among other things, Wells properly alleged libel because the statement made by Xavier and Father Michael J. Graham following their expulsion decision “permanently damages Wells’ professional reputation across the country.”
Citing the case of Gary Neal, a former Division I college basketball player acquitted of rape in 2005, the opposition says that, “Wells will leave college and will likely face difficulties in obtaining employment as a result of the false and defamatory Statement. Professional basketball teams undoubtedly will be more hesitant to draft or sign Wells as a result of Defendants’ actions and the Statement. Indeed, professional sports teams are historically reluctant to draft or sign student-athletes who have been accused of criminal activity.”
The original complaint was amended and filed on behalf of Wells on Sept. 10, 2013 to include Title IX claims of gender bias. All additional claims were motioned to dismiss by Xavier, which wrote, “In sum, Mr. Wells’ dissatisfaction with the outcome of his disciplinary hearing is not evidence of gender discrimination.”
Since the lawsuit was filed, Xavier has stood by its judicial ruling, promising to “vigorously defend the process and the decision” in an August statement. Despite declining to include two claims, the first footnote on Xavier’s dismissal motion “unequivocally denies” that the remaining unaddressed claims “have merit” and promises that when “procedurally appropriate, Xavier and Fr. Graham fully intend to move for judgment in their favor on any remaining claims.”
In the subsequently filed “memorandum of law in opposition,” Wells’ legal team argued that a botched discovery process and university judicial system resulted in a hasty verdict “as a result of its deliberate indifference to the evidence.”
“At a minimum, a question of fact exists as to whether Father Graham’s support for the flawed investigation and adjudication of this matter was motivated by a gender-driven bias against males,” the opposition reads.
Maryland opens its season at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on Friday evening against Connecticut, when Wells will debut as the team’s newest point guard. The junior was elevated to the position after presumed starter Seth Allen broke a foot. All preseason, Wells has shrugged off any scrutiny brought about by the lawsuit.
“I feel like now, I can just relax,” he said at Maryland media day in October. “That’s really all I can say. I feel more relaxed, at ease with stuff. I can’t really express tell you how much better it feels from a year ago.”