A former student-athlete at the University of Minnesota Duluth has filed suit against the school, claiming that it retaliated against her for supporting her former coach who had been accused of sexual misconduct.
The Duluth News Tribune reports that Paige Du Bois, a former track and cross-country athlete, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court on Wednesday. The suit alleges that the school violated federal Title IX laws by interfering with her athletic and academic career after she questioned the school’s investigation of possible sexual misconduct by then-coach Joanna Warmington.
Warmington had been the subject of a report by the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, which “found that Ms. Warmington engaged in sexual harassment in violation of University policy.” Du Bois encouraged teammates with positive views of Warmington to come forward to rebut those claims.
In March of 2018, the team was told that Warmington was taking a leave of absence, but ultimately went through the spring and summer without a coach before Warmington resigned in August 2018.
Du Bois met with administrators in the meantime and reportedly expressed concern about going through a season without her coach. The suit alleges that administrators failed to provide Du Bois with specifics regarding Warmington, but that she was told it was a matter of “when, not if” Warmington would return. Du Bois was offered the opportunity to redshirt, but ultimately decided to participate that spring.
The suit claims that administrators told the team they were caught off guard by Warmington’s resignation, and that they would have to go through the fall without a coach, as well. The News Tribune reports that Du Bois, after injuring her knee, sought an opportunity to redshirt — but that administrators refused as part of an effort to retaliate against her for her earlier support of Warmington.
Du Bois ultimately transferred to Northern Michigan University, where she is still a member of the cross-country and track teams.
Du Bois is seeking compensatory damages and damages for emotional distress, as well as attorneys fees in her suit.