- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 21, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Dixie State University is in settlement talks with two former women’s basketball players who sued the college, alleging racial, sexual and religious discrimination, attorneys for both sides said Tuesday.

Plaintiffs Nanea Woods and Austen Harris, who are both black, claim former coach Catherria Turner treated black players differently than white players and harassed the plaintiffs about their sexual orientation.

Dixie State and Turner have denied the allegations.

Assistant Utah Attorney General Greg Soderberg said during a federal court hearing in Salt Lake City that the plaintiffs have made a settlement offer and an agreement is possible if negotiations are successful.

Attorneys for the players declined to say how much they are seeking in damages.

The case is due back in court in May. Attorneys say preparations will be lengthy because the list of possible witnesses is long and includes other players on the team.

Some witnesses and lawyers must travel back and forth to the university in St. George, about 300 miles south of Salt Lake City.

Woods and Harris say Turner referred to the black players as the “sistas” and used other racial slurs during the 2013-2014 season while giving white players better treatment.

The ex-players also say Turner forced them to practice without water, and once left Woods and some other players on a bus without food or water while the rest of the team attended church services.

Turner had a fixation on the two players’ sexual orientation, accusing them of trying to date each other even though Woods told Turner that she was straight and had a boyfriend, the lawsuit alleges.

The players say Dixie State administrators knew about the complaints and didn’t do enough to stop them.

The players say they were dismissed from the team as retaliation after they began complaining about Turner.

Turner was fired in November after less than two years in the job.

Kathryn Steffey, a lawyer for Woods, said she is now playing basketball for a school in California. “She’s trying to move on,” Steffey said.

Harris is still a student at Dixie State, though she’s not playing for the basketball team and is hoping to play elsewhere after graduation, her attorney D. Scott Crook said.

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