Another Title IX investigation has ended in confusion. This time, it centered on Missouri University and their swimming coach, Greg Rhodenbaugh. Now, both sides are arguing over basic facts and accusing the other of blatantly lying about what happened.
Missouri's Swimming Coach Investigated for Discrimination
Last November, the Kansas City Star reported that the coach for both the men's and women's swimming teams at the University of Missouri was on paid leave, pending a Title IX allegation.
Details about those Title IX allegations, though, were scarce. At different times, it was mentioned that the Title IX claims involved any of the following:
- Disparate management between the men's and women's teams
- Discrimination against women swimmers
- The coach's handling of a swimmer's mental health problems
Recently, though, the University of Missouri took a different turn: They fired coach Rhodenbaugh, even though the Title IX investigation was still pending.
Because Rhodenbaugh was no longer a school employee, the Title IX case was immediately thrown away and no final report would be issued.
Now, the coach and the college are arguing over what actually happened.
Parties Dispute Sequence of Events During Title IX Investigation
After news of the firing reached the public, coach Rhodenbaugh released a news statement. In it, he claimed that the Title IX investigation absolved him of wrongdoing, but that the University of Missouri dragged its feet during the process in order to prevent him from applying to swimming programs at other schools in Division I.
The coach also claims that the college never revealed the factual basis for the Title IX allegations, and never scheduled a hearing for the coach to present exculpatory evidence.
The school, on the other hand, claims that the Title IX investigation never came to a conclusion. It also claims that the coach “was able” to meet with school officials multiple times with his lawyer.
The Lack of Transparency in a Title IX Case
This is just another example of the problems of having so many privacy protections during the Title IX process. Students, faculty, or coaches who get accused of a Title IX violation, quite literally, have no idea what they are being accused of doing. This is especially problematic with coaches like Rhodenbaugh, who cannot reflect on what happened recently and make an educated guess on what the allegations are about – their constant interactions with other students make it almost impossible.
In this case, the “he said, she said” game that coach Rhodenbaugh and the University of Missouri may never be resolved: The school is under no obligation to release the findings of whatever Title IX investigation was underway. The uncertainty puts a dark cloud over coach Rhodenbaugh as he tries to find another job coaching college swimming.
Joseph D. Lento: Title IX Advisor and Defense Lawyer
Joseph D. Lento is a national Title IX advisor who also represents people who have been accused of sexual misconduct and Title IX violations in the higher education setting. Call his law office at (888) 535-3686 or contact him online for the help you need.