SMU Settles Lawsuit v. Ex-Women's Basketball Player

| by Pat Griffin

Here is a news report on the conclusion of a lawsuit I first wrote about in September, 2008. You can see that blog post here for more specific information about the former player's allegations.

The university and coach Rompola will not comment and the university claims it did nothing wrong in this case. The settlement provides the player, Jennifer Colli, with a $19,213 settlement which is the equivalent of one semester of financial aid.

Who knows what really happened here. I guess we can hope that the fact that a player stepped forward to challenge what she perceived as anti-lesbian discrimination by her coach and the failure of the university athletic department to properly investigate her allegations will serve as a warning to other coaches and schools: Athletes and their parents these days are more likely to object to and challenge what they experience as discrimination in sport based on sexual orientation.

Schools and coaches that hope to avoid discrimination lawsuits should educate athletic staff, adopt policy that protects athletes and coaches from discrimination based on sexual orientation and then follow through to make sure these policies are followed by everyone in the athletic department.

The tendency when an athlete charges sexual orientation discrimination against a coach, it seems to me, is for the athletic department to close ranks around the coach rather than conduct an impartial and thorough investigation of the charges. The same seems to hold true for cases in which coaches charge the athletic department with sexual orientation discrimination: The school closes ranks around the AD, as appears to be the case in the Katie Brenny lawsuit currently on-going at the University of Minnesota. It would be a lot less expensive and result in less negative publicity and attention if schools would take a proactive stance on education and policy development related to discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Hat Tip to Women's Hoop Blog for bringing this to my attention.