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UCI Women’s Water Polo Player Under Investigation for Inappropriately Touching Opponents

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Elena “Nina” Flynn, a UCI women’s water polo player and redshirt sophomore, is being investigated by the Title IX office for inappropriately touching two members of the Loyola Marymount University (LMU) team during a match on Feb. 16. 

According to the Orange County Register (OCR), these allegations include touching the “intimate body parts” of opposing LMU players. The Title IX office suspended Flynn on Feb. 23. Flynn’s attorney Alison Polin Saros stated this suspension banned Flynn from participating in all competitions on behalf of UCI. 

The interim suspension was lifted on March 10 “after extensive interviews with UCI’s Title IX Office, including play-by-play analysis of game film,” Saros told the New University, on behalf of Flynn. “We are limited in the amount of information we can share so as not to compromise the ongoing Title IX investigation. However, we can share that Nina is not responsible for the allegations.”

Neither LMU head coach Ikaika Aki nor any of the LMU women’s water polo team members have responded to the New University’s request for comment. UCI head coach Dan Klatt also declined to comment due to the ongoing nature of the investigation. 

According to the OCR, the UCI women’s water polo team pulled out of the collegiate women’s water polo Barbara Kalbus Invitational tournament, from Feb. 24-26 in support of Flynn. 

David Tedesco, the father of one of Flynn’s teammates, organized a GoFundMe to help cover Flynn’s legal expenses. As of March 25, a total of $26,915 has been raised for the cause, surpassing the original goal of $25,000.

 “The GoFundMe response is also testament to the understanding that a Title IX charge is not the appropriate venue to resolve alleged game conduct violations,” Tedesco told the New University. 

Tedesco said he was surprised to hear about the accusations of Flynn “committing sexual violence,” stating that “Nina is a highly skilled player. If [dirty play] occurs, [it] is committed by less skilled players.” 

According to the GoFundMe page, these allegations could be grounds for Flynn to be removed from the women’s water polo team, or expelled from UCI and face criminal prosecution.

Tedesco wrote on the page that since there are “no exceptions” to the guidelines on what constitutes inappropriate touching, “with a definition so broad, every water polo game, male or female, is full of such Title IX violations.” 

Saros said that the fight for Flynn’s innocence and the ongoing investigation “has larger implications for the entire sport of water polo.” 

This sentiment was echoed by Tedesco, who wrote that “if a Title IX investigation becomes the forum for alleged game time transgressions, chaos to all water polo programs will result.”

Lauren Le is a Campus News Editor for the 2022-2023 school year. She can be reached at laurenl9@uci.edu

James Huston is a Sports Editor for the 2022-2023 school year. He can be reached at hustonj@uci.edu.