A college in Connecticut that previously only accepted women applicants is back in the news, and again, it has to do with their new men's basketball team. One of the workers in the school's athletic department has filed a Title IX lawsuit claiming that the sports scene at the school is an example of gender discrimination and that the office environment is rife with sexist remarks.
Title IX Lawsuit Filed for Gender Discrimination at Newly-Coeducational College
The University of St. Joseph, in West Hartford, Connecticut, was founded in 1932 but did not admit male students into its undergraduate programs until the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year.
News of the change, however, paled in comparison to the school's announcement that it had hired retired basketball coach Jim Calhoun to lead the newly-formed men's basketball team. Calhoun coached the men's basketball teams at the University of Connecticut from 1987 through 2012, leading them to three national championships and 625 victories. He brought with him the assistant coach for the new men's team, Glen Miller.
The hiring of Calhoun and Miller, however, did not settle well with everyone. The associate athletic director at St. Joseph claims that their presence turned the athletic department at the former girls-only school into a “male-dominated, hostile work environment” and a “boy's club” that made her feel uncomfortable.
She filed a Title IX lawsuit against the school, listing a number of alleged examples of why their presence amounted to gender discrimination, culminating with her dismissal and replacement with a man.
People Tend to Jump to the Gender Discrimination Conclusion
There's a lot going on in the complaint filed by the former associate athletic director. Of course, the allegations made in a complaint are still unproven and are still merely allegations that the defendants in the lawsuit have yet to challenge.
While several of the more pointed details would be disturbing and disparaging if proven – including one where Calhoun stomped coffee K-cups into the carpet and then told the associate athletic director to clean them up – the underlying theme of the allegations is something that employment discrimination cases tend to have in common. The worker saw a shift in attitude or focus in the workplace and didn't take it very well.
That such a shift in focus would happen after a women's college began admitting men and fielding men's sports teams is completely predictable. That the changes would be difficult to implement smoothly is hardly unexpected. That they would be made even more difficult by hiring a hugely successful coach and local celebrity to helm one of those new teams is not surprising, either. After four decades of coaching basketball, it wouldn't be surprising if Calhoun has become the kind of coach that requires the school to fit into their mold, rather than vice versa.
While this can upset the status quo in an athletic department, it does not necessarily mean that it is gender discrimination.
Joseph D. Lento: Title IX Defense
Joseph D. Lento is a Title IX defense lawyer. Contact him online or call his law office at (888) 535-3686 if you have been accused of sexual misconduct on campus.