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Ex-Track Coach Sues Missouri for Discrimination

Jason Scott

A former assistant track and field coach at the University of Missouri has filed a lawsuit, alleging racial discrimination.

According to KMIZ, the suit filed Tuesday on behalf of Carjay Lyles, details a number of racial incidents targeted at Lyles, who was the only black member of the track and field coaching staff, as well as at student-athletes.

The lawsuit claims that the defendants in the case, head coach Brettl Halter and his supervisor Mitzi Clayton “instituted a continuous practice of exhibiting discriminatory and demeaning behavior toward black athletes and staff members, including Plaintiff.” The lawsuit also names the University of Missouri Board of Curators as defendants.

Among the incidents detailed in the suit was one in which Halter allegedly referenced the Ku Klux Klan after Lyles declined his request to lay grass seed at his house.

The suit claims that Halter’s treatment of Lyles did not go unnoticed by members of the team, who reportedly spoke to then-athletic director Mack Rhoades. The suit claims that Rhoades held a meeting with Halter to address the concerns the student-athletes raised.

Lyles raised his own concerns with human resources, with the school’s chancellor, and with a senior athletic department official.

As the situation escalated, Lyles says his year-end reviews began to be suffer, despite having been positive in previous years.

“Even though the portion of the team that I coached had great success, I was the only coach that did not receive a title promotion, a pay raise or a contract extension,” Lyles alleges in the lawsuit.

The suit also claims that Lyles was denied a head coaching position at the University of North Carolina because a member of the hiring committee was a Missouri graduate and disapproved of Lyles reporting Halter’s behavior.

Lyles says in the suit that he was “constructively discharged” from his position at Missouri in July of 2017. He’s now an assistant track and field coach at the University of Akron.

In a statement, the University declined to comment on the specifics of the case, citing pending litigation.

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