Peyton v. Kuhn

April 2021
Radford University (Public college or university)
Radford, VA

Identity of Speakers

  • Jordan Peyton

Additional Information

  • Incident Nature:
  • Incident Political Orientation:
    Not Clear
  • Incident Responses:
  • Incident Status:
    In litigation Federal District Court
  • Did not involve Speech Codes


Jordan Peyton was recruited to play baseball at Radford University by its former baseball coach Joe Raccuia. Prior to Peyton’s matriculation however, Raccuia was replaced by Karl Kuhn. In his complaint, Peyton alleges that Kuhn engaged in a variety of questionable practices. For instance, Kuhn allegedly grouped the lockers of minority players, such as Peyton, together, informed players that they were required to stand during the national anthem to remain in good standing, directed only players of color to get haircuts prior to team pictures, and referred to an Asian American player on the team as “Kim Chi” rather than by his name. Kuhn did not play Peyton in any games during the 2020-2021 season.

In his complaint, Peyton alleges that he reported these and other incidents to Radford’s athletic department. Despite assurances from Radford’s athletic director that he would not face retaliation for raising concerns about Kuhn, Peyton was removed from the active lineup and was not allowed to participate in live batting practice. Peyton was also prevented from traveling with the team. As he had not yet played in a game, Peyton began discussions with Kuhn and an assistant athletic director about “red shirting” him so that he could preserve a year of playing eligibility.

On April 21, 2021, Peyton and a dozen other fellow baseball players met with an assistant athletic director under the belief that the meeting was to be confidential. However, Peyton alleges that he believes that the substance of the meeting was shared with Kuhn shortly afterwards.

The very next day, Radford’s athletic director informed Peyton and his peers that no action would be taken against Kuhn. During a game, Kuhn met with them and purportedly said “You thought you were going to get me fired, but I’m not going anywhere.”

Kuhn then ordered Peyton into the game, forcing him to forfeit his opportunity to redshirt. And within days, Peyton and another African American member of the team were cut. Peyton lost his scholarship and was forced to withdraw if he hoped to continue playing baseball. Though Peyton transferred to another college, his net cost of attendance ultimately rose by approximately $100,000.

Chief Judge Michael Urbanski of the Western District of Virginia denied Kuhn’s motion to dismiss, concluding that Peyton had adequately alleged that Kuhn’s actions were retaliation for Peyton’s First Amendment protected complaints.