Hall of Fame soccer player sues AU for race-based discrimination

Alum says he was denied consideration for men's head soccer coach position

Hall of Fame soccer player sues AU for race-based discrimination
The AU Athletics Center in Bender Arena.

A former American University soccer player accused the University of racial discrimination, according to a lawsuit filed in a D.C. federal court on Wednesday. 

David Nakhid applied for the men’s soccer head coach position following the dismissal of Todd West in December 2018. Zach Samol, the team’s current head coach, took over the position in early 2019. 

On April 26, Nakhid filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, according to Bloomberg Law, who first reported the lawsuit. 

Nakhid, originally from Trinidad and Tobago, identifies as black. The soccer player believed he was most qualified for the position because of his past experience. The lawsuit states that he “is widely recognized as one of the most prominent players to have played soccer with the University.” 

Nakhid played soccer at AU from 1983 to 1986. He was inducted into the Stafford H. Cassell Hall of Fame in 2005, as he went on to play soccer professionally in Switzerland, Belgium and Greece after graduating, according to his website. Upon retiring from professional soccer, he went on to own and be the head coach for the David Nakhid International Football Academy. 

The lawsuit alleges that Nakhid reached out to the University’s assistant athletic director, Andrew Smith, to ask about the open position, and he was directed to the online application. After filling it out, the lawsuit says, University officials “declined” to interview him. 

The lawsuit also states that Samol, who is white, was offered the position only after Mike Brady, who is also white, declined it. Brady is currently the associate head coach of the men’s soccer team at Duke University, and he served as the head coach of the women’s soccer team at AU for eight seasons, beginning in 2010. 

AU Athletics declined to a request for comment, stating the department does not offer any statements on pending litigation.

Nakhid’s attorney could not be reached. A representative from their office said they would let the attorney decide whether to respond to the Eagle’s request for comment. 

AU spokesperson Kelly Alexander told The Eagle that the University cannot comment on pending litigation. 

“American University is committed to ensuring inclusive excellence in all parts of our community,” Alexander wrote in an email to The Eagle. “Our commitment includes hiring practices that enhance recruiting and onboarding processes and deliver an employee experience that attracts and retains high-performing and diverse faculty and staff at all levels. AU views each hire and the hiring process as critical to the success of our students and our University.”

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