Law & Policy: Contract Law
L.A. District: No Sports if Teachers Strike
by Jason Scott January 2019
The teachers’ union of the Los Angeles Unified School District is nearing a strike, and in the event teachers walk off the job, more than just classroom activity will be affected.
Cal State LA Settles Harassment Lawsuit for $2.75M
by Paul Steinbach January 2019
California State University Los Angeles has settled a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former high-ranking athletics official for $2.75 million, according to the Los Angeles Times.
One-time Olympic triple-jumper Sheila Hudson was hired as an assistant track and field coach by the university in 2002. In August 2016, she filed a lawsuit in L.A. County Superior Court alleging that recently retired athletic director Mike Garrett and the school violated California's Fair Employment and Housing Act and intentionally inflicted emotional distress, among other causes of action.
Specifically, the lawsuit claimed that Garrett used "degrading, sexist names" such as "sweetheart," "love" and "babe" when addressing women employed in the athletic department, and that Garrett "exploded" when Hudson raised her concerns about it. In addition, Hudson accused the school of retaliating after she compiled a report highlighting gaps in pay and other areas between men and women in the athletic department.
Garret coached at Cal State LA through 2008. She served as the athletic department's compliance coordinator and senior woman administrator for two years before being promoted to associate athletics director in 2008. Hudson was promoted to senior associate director of athletics in January 2016 and served as a campus deputy Title IX coordinator. She left Cal State LA in 2017.
According to court documents obtained by the Times, Hudson is not allowed to discuss the litigation. She must delete all references to the litigation from her personal social media accounts and is barred from applying for any position within the Cal State system. In exchange, she received a check last month for $1.27 million, while her representing firm of Abrolat Law received $1.47 million. She filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit in late December.
Ex-UConn Coach Fights for Right to Claim Discrimination
by Paul Steinbach December 2018
Former University of Connecticut men's basketball coach Kevin Ollie claims his March 10 firing was racially motivated and is fighting the university for the right to make that claim.
According to the New Haven Register, Ollie and his attorneys have for several months been seeking to file a complaint of race discrimination with the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), or in the courts. His attorneys want to preserve the right to do so after his current arbitration process with UConn is over. However, Ollie's attorneys contend that UConn is preventing their client from doing so, based on a provision in the collective bargaining agreement between Ollie’s union and the school that would allow UConn to end its current arbitration proceedings with Ollie if he took that route.
"It's unfortunate that the University of Connecticut has forced us to seek federal court intervention to protect Kevin’s right to file a claim of discrimination after we go to arbitration," said Ollie attorney Jacques Parenteau. "There is no good reason for the University of Connecticut to refuse to cooperate with us on this.
"I can't understand why they would not agree. It does them no harm whatsoever to say, 'If you have this right, we’ll just waive it until after the arbitration.' It's just to be punitive, or, as we allege, retaliatory."
The statute-of-limitations deadline for filing a discrimination case with the CHRO was Monday, so Ollie is seeking an emergency injunction in U.S. District Court.
According to the injunction request dated Dec. 17, Ollie is claiming "disparate treatment" against him compared to white coaches at UConn, including Jim Calhoun. The document notes that Calhoun was found to have violated NCAA rules after investigations in 2011 and 2012 that were more severe than what Ollie was accused of doing. Instead of being fired, the document states, Calhoun was paid more than $1.9 million between 2012 (when he retired) and September 2018.
Ollie contends that this proves he has been discriminated against on the basis of race and color, in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act.
UConn claims Ollie violated several NCAA rules during his six seasons as UConn’s head coach, from shooting baskets with a prospective recruit to allowing illicit workouts between his players and trainers and setting up a phone call between a recruit and Hall of Famer Ray Allen, a former UConn star.
Ollie is seeking to recoup the nearly $11 million that was remaining on his contract at the time he was fired. Along with the allegations of racial discrimination, Ollie continues to contend that he was fired without "just cause."
Travel Challenges Cancel College Hoops Game
by Jason Scott December 2018
Texas A&M head basketball coach Billy Kennedy was “perplexed” by it, but travel issues and weather forced Boston College and the Aggies to cancel a basketball game that was scheduled to take place in College Station, Texas, on Saturday. However, the mere fact that the game wasn’t played isn’t the end of the story. According to Yahoo Sports, conflicting narratives about what happened leave questions about how the situation will ultimately be resolved.
U. of Texas Settles with Former Track Coach for $600K
by Paul Steinbach August 2018
Bev Kearney, the highly successful University of Texas women's track coach who was forced out in 2013 over a personal relationship, will receive $600,000 to settle her race and gender discrimination lawsuit against the school, according to records obtained by the Austin American-Statesman.
Kearney, who is black, argued that her termination — resulting from the revelation that the coach had had an inappropriate long-term relationship with one of her student-athletes a decade earlier — represented harsher punishment than that received by Major Applewhite, a white former assistant football coach who was ordered to undergo counseling after a brief consensual relationship with a student trainer during a bowl game trip following the 2008 season.
Only the second black head coach in UT history when she was hired in 1993, Kearney had been recommended for a $150,000 raise in fall 2012. By then she had won six NCAA titles and national coach of the year honors five times. She originally sought damages approaching $4 million, including the value of a new contract she had not yet signed.
In the end, Kearney gets $277,452.10 of the settlement amount, while the Jody R. Mask PLLC law firm gets $322,547.90.
UT reportedly spent more than $500,000 in its years-long attempt to quash the lawsuit, with vice president for legal affairs Patti Ohlendorf calling Kearney’s discrimination allegations “unfounded” and her relationship with the athlete “a serious lack of judgment.” The Texas Supreme Court ultimately allowed the case to proceed in 2017, resulting in depositions by former UT president Bill Powers, former athletic director DeLoss Dodds, former football coach Mack Brown and university officials who investigate allegations of sexual misconduct. Those depositions remain sealed.
Fired USC Coach Claims Age Discrimination, Seeks $2M
by Paul Steinbach July 2018
Former University of Southern California women's volleyball coach Mick Haley is seeking millions of dollars from the university, claiming it forced him to retire.
The High Cost of Discrimination in Collegiate Athletics
by Kristi Schoepfer-Bochicchio June 2018
In recent years, several female college coaches have filed notable lawsuits resulting from perceived discrimination under Title VII and Title IX, as well as state anti-discrimination laws. In multiple instances, these coaches have been awarded multimillion-dollar verdicts or settlements, sending clear messages to university athletics departments and athletic directors that disparate treatment and discriminatory practices will not be tolerated. Most recently, Shannon Miller, a highly accomplished women's hockey coach at the University of Minnesota-Duluth (UMD) received a $3.7 million jury verdict for discrimination under both Title VII and Title IX, and Beth Burns, the former women's basketball coach at San Diego State University, settled for $4 million.
Texas Settles Former Track Coach's Discrimination Suit
by Paul Steinbach June 2018
A former University of Texas track coach has settled the discrimination case she filed against the university in 2013 for an undisclosed sum.
Bev Kearney, who claimed she was fired as the Longhorns' women's track coach because of her race and gender, had been seeking in excess of $1 million.
According to Horns 247, Kearney threatened to reveal several inappropriate relationships within the athletic department and throughout the university to prove her point that she was unfairly singled out and dismissed for having an intimate relationship with one of her female track athletes 10 years earlier. Her lawsuit contrasted the treatment she received against that of several white males, including Major Applewhite, a former Texas assistant football coach who revealed to school officials an extramarital affair with a graduate student trainer during the 2008 season, which culminated in team's a Fiesta Bowl appearance in January 2009. Applewhite wasn't fired, but instead saw his salary frozen for one year.
The lawsuit also claimed a three-year relationship between an athletics administrator and subordinate with whom he held salary decision power, among other inappropriate relationships. "In one of the most glaring examples of the university's blatant disregard for this being an alleged problem amongst coaches and student-athletes, the university previously employed Jim Moore (current head volleyball coach at the University of Oregon) from 1997 to 2000 despite the fact he married his former student-athlete, Stacy Metro," the lawsuit stated. "These relationships between a professor, coach or administrator and a student, student-athlete or subordinate employee, are believed to be well known by the university administration and quietly disregarded and swept under the rug.
"However, without citing any specific written policy, the university has singled out Ms. Kearney, an African-American female, regarded her as different based on a nearly 10-year-old relationship."
Kearney's lawsuit claims that then women's athletic director Chris Plonsky told her "as long as there were no other relationships, it should not be a problem." Raasin McIntosh, the star sprinter with whom Kearney had a relationship, reportedly received from Kearney a Volkswagon Jetta in violation of NCAA rules, though the statute of limitations had precluded an NCAA investigation.
Horns 247 further reports that McIntosh came forward 10 years after the fact, as Kearney was poised to receive new contract proposed by Plonsky that would have given Kearney a five-year extension and raise in salary from $270,000 to $422,000 for 2012-13. Kearney's salary could've reached $475,000, plus bonuses, by 2017.
In a statement released at the time of the lawsuit's filing, UT vice president of legal affairs Ohlendorf said:
"Ms. Kearney was a coach with some admirable qualities who brought success to our women's track program, overcame great challenges, and contributed to the campus community.
"When the university reviews inappropriate behavior by its employees, each case is evaluated on its individual facts.
"In this case, it was evident that Ms. Kearney displayed a serious lack of judgment by having an inappropriate, intimate, long-term relationship with a member of her team.
"The team member later reported it to university officials who pursued all appropriate action."
Applewhite was deposed by Kearney's attorneys, as were former head football coach Mack Brown and former athletic director DeLoss Dodds, both of whom stepped down from their positions in 2013. Former UT president Bill Powers, who stepped down in 2014, was also deposed.
San Diego Wasted Money During Naming Rights Search
by Paul Steinbach May 2018
The city of San Diego unnecessarily spent money on a third party to help secure new naming rights for the former Qualcomm Stadium, according to a grand jury report released Tuesday.
Iowa to Pay Firm Another $90K for Second Policy Review
by Paul Steinbach May 2018
The University of Iowa, still searching for answers after discrimination lawsuits involving its athletic department led to $6.5 million in total settlements last year, is paying a law firm $92,000 to review the legality of the department's employment policies.