NCAA Basketball

Lawsuit Against SMU's Rhonda Rompola to Move Forward

| by Pat Griffin

I first blogged about this situation in September, 2008 and then again in October, 2009. Well, finally after two years a judge has ruled that the lawsuit can go to trial. A quick summary: Jennifer Colli, a player on the SMU women’s basketball team, alleged that her scholarship was revoked after she complained about coach Rhonda Rompola’s inappropriate interest in players’ sex lives. In particular Colli, backed by signed statements from four teammates, charged that Rompola was anti-gay and particularly hostile toward lesbians in relationships on her team. The irony here was that apparently it was fairly common knowledge on the team that Rompola had been in a relationship with one of her female assistant coaches (she subsequently married a male assistant coach for the men’s team, who now lives and coaches in North Carolina, makes you go hmmmmm). Anyway, an internal school investigation of Colli’s accusations found that they had no merit.

SMU asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit, but the judge has cleared the way for a trial finding problems with SMU’s internal investigation. Specifically, the athletic director never talked to the other players about Colli’s accusations and apparently the school did violate school and NCAA regulations in revoking Colli’s scholarship. Also, the four players who backed up Colli’s charges were suspended from the team. Instead of investigating the accusations, the SMU athletic department focused on investigating and discrediting Colli.

I noticed that in the most recent article about this situation all references to the lesbian content of Colli’s accusations have been deleted. Earlier news reports here indicated that Colli was a lesbian and that Rompola was specifically making anti-gay statements. The recent article only says that Rompola “constantly made sexually charged comments about the players' personal and intimate relationships” and asking them if they “had sex the night before.” I’m curious about why the specifically anti-lesbian nature of the accusations has been omitted. Of course, Rompola’s alleged comments would be completely offensive either way, but I’m just curious to see if future reports of this situation are “straightened up” as well.

I’ll let you know as soon as I hear more about what happens next.