Ex-EWU Coach Claims AD Discriminated in $5M Suit

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Former Eastern Washington University women's basketball coach Wendy Schuller has filed a tort claim to the state Department of Enterprise Services claiming she was unlawfully terminated by the university in March.

As reported by The Spokesman-Review of Spokane, Schuller's filing alleges unlawful employment practices rooted partly in age and gender discrimination by EWU athletics Director Lynn Hickey over the years the two worked together. Schuller was hired as the head women's basketball coach in 2001.

The filing makes arguments that Schuller was terminated not only on the basis of her age and gender, but also on the grounds that she attempted to report allegations of domestic violence and threatening behavior involving football players, pursuant to Title IX regulations, The Spokesman-Review's Greg Mason reported.

The tort claim alleges that Hickey told Schuller in 2018 "not to bother" applying for the position of senior woman administrator despite her qualifications. The university instead hired Sarah Adams, which the filing describes as a younger, less-experienced candidate.

The filing claims Schuller was given less pay than her male counterparts and seeks no less than $5 million in damages from the state, citing pay disparities, emotional distress and the loss of substantial benefits.

The filing further claims Hickey prioritized men's athletics over women's, which manifested in "unequal hiring practices, budgets, athletic care, training and safety resources," and says reports of threatening behavior and domestic violence involving members of the football team were covered up. 

Schuller went 277-322 in 20 seasons as coach, including a 166-169 record in Big Sky Conference play. She had one year left on her contract.

EWU declined comment on the filing.

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