A former volleyball coach at Newman University in Wichita, Kan., is suing the Division II Catholic institution and its athletic director, claiming her internal sex discrimination and harassment complaints were met with pushback.
Hired in May 2015 to serve as head coach of the women's volleyball team, Destiny Clark is the fifth former Newman employee to sue the school within the past year and the third to do so on the basis of Title IX.
According to The Wichita Eagle, Clark’s lawsuit, filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Wichita, accuses Newman and athletic director Victor Trilli of retaliation, gender and pay discrimination, creating a hostile work environment, intentionally inflicting emotional distress and negligence. The suit claims that in addition to a $37,000 annual salary for coaching volleyball, Clark's hire involved a spoken promise to offer her the strength coaching position and $20,000 in additional pay. However, the school hired men to serve in the latter role, including at least one individual less qualified than Clark, who was certified as a strength coach and created strength training workouts for her team and other Newman teams, the suit says. When Clark complained, she was laughed at and offered a strength coach stipend of $2,000 — a fraction of the original agreed upon pay, the suit alleges.
Her Title IX complaint was filed in October 2017, after two full years of observing her volleyball squad routinely placed "at a lower priority than male teams" when scheduling practices. She also alleged that the school failed to stop a men’s basketball player who repeatedly interrupted volleyball practices, sexually harassed volleyball players and refused to leave the gym when asked. Clark sought a restraining order from a Sedgwick County judge after a confrontation with the men’s player turned physical.
The suit goes on to allege that Trilli got personal with Clark, asking about her dating life, childbearing plans and hair styles during discussions about her conflicts with the men's basketball program.
Mandy Greenfield, who was in charge of the investigation into Clark’s Title IX complaint as Newman's head of human resources at the time, sued the school in December after she says she was fired for whistleblowing. John Walker, who helped investigate Clark’s Title IX complaint, sued over his termination in January.
Clark resigned effective July 16, 2018.
On Friday, the university issued a statement regarding Clark's suit. "All actions taken by the university with regard to Ms. Clark were legitimate, non-discriminatory, and non-retaliatory," the statement says. "Newman University investigated the allegations made by Ms. Clark, both before and after her voluntary resignation. It was determined that there was no evidence to support her claim that Newman, or any employee listed in the lawsuit as a defendant violated the law.
“At all times, Newman University complied with the applicable state and federal laws. The goal of Newman University is to provide its students and employees an academic and professional environment in which they enjoy learning and working.”