Friday, December 07, 2007

Title IX tidbits

Title IX is always in the news (as you will see if you check over at The Title IX Blog), but a few interesting things have happened this week:

1. Anson Dorrance, coach of the very successful women's soccer team at University of North Carolina, is heading to court in the spring of next year to answer charges of sexual harassment brought by a former player. This case began in 1998 and was initially dismissed before a Court of Appeals overturned the dismissal. Unless there's a settlement, a jury will hear all the stories of how Dorrance kicked soccer balls into the backsides of his players and other such egregious behaviors in April.

2. Down in Florida, former (now fired) assistant softball coach Gina Ramacci at Florida Gulf Coast University has filed a complaint with the university alleging Title IX and Title VII discrimination in her case. Ramacci was accused of having inappropriate relations with a student-athlete on her team. A sexual relationship was never proven and Ramacci is asking to be reinstated with back pay. Technically she was not fired, her contract was not renewed.

She and her lawyer are claiming the investigation itself was faulty and that none of the charges against her were proven.

And though I speculated, given the coverage of the incident, that Ramacci is an openly gay coach, this article corroborated that. Additionally, her lawyer said that part of the cause for suspicion about Ramacci's firing is the near-simultaneous suspension of volleyball coach Jaye Flood, also gay, according to the lawyer and Ramacci.

“My client finds it interesting that two female coaches with the same sexual preference have been placed on administrative leave,” Vasquez said.

I find it interesting, too. But not especially surprising. Flood's case seems to be indefinitely on hold. There has been no word on her situation in weeks.

3. Settlement was the big news in Colorado this week where, after six years of legal wranglings, the University of Colorado settled a case with two plaintiffs who had been raped at an off-campus party for football players and recruits. The university will pay out over $2.5 million to end the case which began when UC football recruits (along with current players) got treated to booze and female undergrads at recruiting parties. The plaintiffs were sexually assaulted at one such gathering and sued the university for not doing enough to stop the activities after they had been aware of them. The letter from the president about the settlement suggested that further legal proceedings would have been drawn-out and costly. It should be noted that many in top administrative positions at the time of the assaults are no longer at the university.
Though the university admitted no wrongdoing, they have agreed to appoint an advisor to the Chancellor's office on sexual harassment and misconduct prevention. Also, another part-time counselor position in the Office of Victim's Assistance will be created.

4. Settlement is probably a word ringing in the ears of Fresno State administrators. Arguably the biggest story of gender discrimination and sport this week was the $19.1 million the jury awarded to former basketball coach Stacy Johnson-Klein. This is the third payout to a female coach or administrator in about six months at Fresno State. Former volleyball coach Lindy Vivas won over $4 million at the conclusion of her trial. Diane Milutinovich reached a $3.5 million settlement after the Vivas trial and a month before her case was set to go to trial. But apparently Fresno State thought it could win--or that it had to win--this one. The idea of a settlement was bandied about apparently. Johnson-Klein wanted $950,000; the university was only willing to offer $550,000. Whoever does cost-benefit analysis for Fresno State may not have a job much longer. Neither may president John Welty who is being pressured to resign. He says he's staying, though. I don't know. You're 0-3 on gender discrimination lawsuits which is costing the CSU system over $27 million. This is more than just a slump.
This case is not over, of course. Fresno will appeal and we have to remember that the jury award in the Vivas trial got reduced. I will be surprised if the $19.1 million award stands. Though I was pretty shocked that such a strong statement of support came out for Johnson-Klein came out in the first place so who knows what will happen.

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