Sunday, November 11, 2007

Is there softball in Russia?

Because if that's where we are sending female coaches who have transgressed coach/student-athlete boundaries, a la Pokey Chatman, ( see this USA Today article sent by JB for more info on that situation), then there may be another exile.
Gina Ramacci, an assistant softball coach down at Florida Gulf Coast University, has been fired for improper relations with a student-athlete. Ramacci is a new coach hired last spring who will remain on administrative leave until December when her current contract runs out.
What exactly happened is a little vague. There were allegations that came from the parent of softball player (not the one alleged to have had a relationship with Ramacci) of a sexual relationship which both coach and player have denied. But the university contends that whether a sexual relationship actually occurred is irrelevant to Ramacci's firing because the relationship was "inappropriate."
What exactly inappropriate is, of course, they will not say. This is not surprising given the university in question. FGCU has been in the spotlight for many months now because of allegations of gender inequity in the athletic department and a general hostile atmosphere for female coaches. (See my post here about FGCU's Title IX issues and the Title IX Blog which has extensive coverage of the situation.)
Also, that the allegations came from a parent raises some questions. It appears that Ramacci, who is described as having a "partner," came to FGCU as a fairly out coach. Given the fear of many parents of female athletes that their daughters will be turned into lesbians by gay coaches and the stereotype that softball is populated by lesbians, it seems possible that a parent could be seeing things that are not there or simply and nefariously is out to eliminate any lesbians who are associated with the team.
No word yet on whether Ramacci, who has hired a lawyer, will challenge the investigation's findings. I hope she does. FGCU is in a fairly vulnerable position these days with all the negative press and their secretive internal investigations. If Ramacci, a young coach, goes away quietly then she likely is going away for good. Another anecdote to add to the empirical evidence that is painting a very ugly picture of why female coaches do not stay in the profession.

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