Investigation Finds No Discrimination Against Fresno State Coach

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An investigation into claims of racial discrimination brought last March by Fresno State basketball coach Justin Hutson, who is Black, concluded that he was not discriminated against.

As reported by The Fresno Bee, Hutson alleged that his race was a factor in the level of financial resources and support that athletics director Terry Tumey provided to a program that ranks toward the bottom of the Mountain West Conference in operating revenue and expenses. But a preponderance of evidence did not support those claims, according to the summary report from the Oakland-based Oppenheimer Investigations Group, which specializes in workplace and school investigations, according to The Bee reporter Robert Kuwada.

"The investigation did, however, delay a parting between Hutson and the university, which was preparing to fire the coach at the end of the 2022-23 season," Kuwada wrote. "Hutson coached the sixth and final year of his contract, finishing 12-21 this season, including a 4-14 record and ninth-place finish in the Mountain West. Hutson and the university announced that he would not return following a loss to Utah State in the quarterfinal round of the conference tournament."

The summary of findings was obtained by The Bee through a public records request. The full report, according to a university spokesperson, will be made available once all appropriate redactions have been applied. In it, Tumey, who also is Black, told investigators that he found it “reprehensible” that such a charge was levied against him as a Black man.

"Several witnesses said the lack of resources for men’s basketball seemed evident and out of the ordinary, and that they suspect the lack of support for the program was deliberate. But the report found that they could not provide examples where Tumey withheld resources from the program, according to the summary report," Kuwada reported. "There also was evidence that contradicted Hutson’s accounts of how he and the team were supported, and showed that the challenges he faced were not unique to his relationship with Tumey, or to his team."

Some of the alternative reasons for contentiousness between Hutson and Turney that were provided by witnesses included the fact that Turney didn't hire Hutson, who arrived at Fresno State two months earlier than the AD, the Bulldogs never won more than two consecutive games while posting a dismal 11-21 record a year ago, and the athletic department was still financially hamstrung in the wake of COVID-19, greatly impacting resources provided to the basketball program.

The investigators wrote in the report that it is “reasonable to conclude” the lack of basketball funding was in large part due to financial constraints that were outside of Tumey’s control, Kuwada reported, writing, "A preponderance of evidence, according to the summary report, did not support a finding that Hutson’s race was a factor in the level of support and resources Tumey provided to Hutson and the basketball program."

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