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Martin Luther King III supports ex-USF players


© St. Petersburg Times, published December 8, 2000

Civil rights activist Martin Luther King III said Thursday he will ask attorneys for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to review the federal racial discrimination lawsuits against the University of South Florida and decide whether to become a part of the case.

Since August, eight black former women's basketball players have filed suit against USF and coach Jerry Ann Winters alleging discrimination.

The local chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, led by state director Sevell C. Brown III, has been monitoring the situation. In October it asked the U.S. Attorney General's office and the U.S. Department of Education to investigate.

King, national president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, said the organization will "begin a process of review" with its attorneys in Atlanta to examine the lawsuits and consider action, which could include enjoining the cases.

"Let me first state that while I am certainly happy to be in Tampa today, I'm sad to be here under the circumstances of dealing with any kind of discrimination that in the year 2000 still continues to haunt the men and women of the African-American community," King said from the office of Jonathan L. Alpert, attorney for the former players. "When we look at this kind of behavior that is occurring at the university, a public university, which is partially funded by tax dollars, it seems to me that it's crystal clear ... this behavior must stop. And we will work in whatever way this firm suggests, as long as we need to, until justice is done."

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