Outsports.com recently posted an article about the hiring of a softball coach who's contract was not renewed by University of Florida due to "lack of team progress" but more likely it was for discriminating against one of her gay athletes and pushing her Christian agenda on her players and staff. Karen Johns was the coach (with a winning record) at Florida when one of her athletes sued for discrimination. I had heard about the case but had not hear any more about Johns since that time. The entire department was receiving diversity training under the tutelage of Dr. Pat Griffin who worked personally with Johns.
Well the administration and athletics department at University of Virginia apparently does not have a problem with Johns's history. Lesser allegations than this can crucify people's careers but when it comes to discriminating against lesbian athletes many heads seem to turn the other way. It becomes increasingly difficult to be an advocate for the hiring of more female coaches (female head coaches make up less than half of all head coaches of women's team compared to the 1972 when they comprised about 98 percent of the field) when people like Johns are re-hired and people like Penn State basketball coach Rene Portland continue to get the support of big athletics departments despite their problems with lesbian players. Situations such as these create an even greater atmosphere of unchecked homophobia and continues to keep players and coaches and administrators closeted. While I believe that there would be amazing strength in numbers if more coaches were more visibly out, I know there is extreme fear that if one stands up, she might be standing alone. The departments--and the colleges--that say they are committed to creating diverse, safe environments need to start walking the walk and not making special exceptions for people like Johns and Portland and others like them.