SC State Coach Fired One Day After Title IX Suit

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South Carolina State University women’s basketball coach Audra Smith has been fired from her position one day after she filed a lawsuit alleging Title IX violations.

WCBD-TV reported that Smith had filed a class-action and individual lawsuit Wednesday alleging the university engaged in Title IX discrimination, retaliation and equal pay act violations. The suit seeks an undisclosed amount of money damages.

The lawsuit states that the university has discriminated against women in areas of education, athletics, and employment because of their sex. The complaint also states that the university has engaged in systematic unfair treatment of and continually provided fewer resources to female athletes, women’s teams, and coaches.

For example, in the 2019-2020 school year, men’s team coaches made an average salary of $124,888.00 while women’s team coaches made an average of $53,131, WCBD-TV reported. That same year, only 36 percent of athletic financial aid was awarded to female athletes.

Smith also said that she was issued a three-game suspension earlier this month for a “relatively minor issue” and believes the suspension was issued because of her inquiries into the school’s practices.

On Thursday, the day after Smith’s suit was filed, SC State released a statement announcing Smith’s departure: “We would like to thank Coach Smith for her dedication to our student-athletes and for the hard work she has committed to the women’s basketball program,” athletic director Stacy Danley said in the statement.

University spokesman Sam Watson said in an email to The Associated Press that the school “cannot comment on pending or current litigation.”

One of Smith’s attorneys, Paul Porter, called the dismissal “unlawful” and “retaliatory” and said it “invites more legal action.”

Smith has been a head coach for 18 seasons, spending nine years at UAB and five seasons at Clemson before taking over the Bulldogs’ program, the AP reported.

Smith had one year left on her contract and the Bulldogs have three games remaining in the regular season before she was terminated Thursday. She was in her fourth season with the Bulldogs and had an overall record of 24-73.

“The short amount of time between her filing the Title IX lawsuit and her termination is very close and very compelling,” Porter added.

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