Former Women's Coach Sues Eastern Washington for Age, Gender Discrimination

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773 7732675 Logo Eastern Washington University

Former Eastern Washington University women's basketball coach Wendy Schuller is suing the school and its athletic director for age and sex discrimination.

According to court documents cited by CBS affiliate KREM in Spokane, Schuller, who had spent 20 years at EWU, alleges that EWU athletic director Lynn Hickey exhibited "a discriminatory animus" against older employees and coaches, specifically females.

In May 2018, Schuller had expressed interest in applying for the Open Senior Women's Administrator position. Hickey, who was hiring for the role, allegedly told Schuller "not to bother" with the position, despite Schuller's qualifications, KREM reported.

Documents suggest Hickey hired "a less qualified, 39-year-old woman" for the role with no prior coaching experience and only four years of experience as a senior women's administrator at another school. In addition, the documents alleged that Hickey would frequently ignore Schuller when it came to matters involving the women's basketball team and give more attention to the school's male coaches and teams. 

Schuller's legal team futher asserts that the former coach was paid far less than her male co-workers. Documents provided an example from 2017 when Schuller and Shantay Legans, the head men's basketball coach at the time, signed their most recent contracts. Despite her 17 years of experience at EWU and Legans having no prior experience, Schuller received a base pay of just $110,000 — $20,000 less than Legans's $130,000.

Several more examples of alleged discrimination from Hickey were provided in the court documents, according to KREM's Patrick Henkels. These include a mishandled case of domestic violence involving an EWU football player that Schuller reported in 2019. Documents say Schuller's tumultuous relationship with Hickey hit a breaking point when the athletic director fired her in March 2021 "without warning or explanation."

It's not immediately clear if this action differs in any way from the $5 million claim Schuller filed against EWU in July 2021, mere months after her dismissal, as was reported at the time by Spokane's NBC affiliate KHQ.

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