Tuesday, November 21, 2006

HS Soccer Coach's Relationship With Student-Athlete No Violation of Title IX

This recent Sixth Circuit decision's description of the sexual antics of a 29-year old male coach of a girl's high school soccer team in Michigan should convince anyone that we need laws to protect student-athletes from predatory coaches.

Unfortunately, these facts were not enough to render the school liable for sexual harassment under Title IX or its counterpart in Michigan state law. The plaintiff herself was not the object of the coach's desire, but rather, the teammate and captain of the girl with whom the coach was having a relationship. While the coach did threaten to retaliate against the plaintiff if she ever reported his conduct, the court deemed this threat was not of a sexual nature and thus did not constitute quid pro quo harassment.

The bigger problem for the plaintiff was that the school was never expressly made aware that the coach was having an inappropriate relationship with one of his players. The court rejected the plaintiff's suggestion that it was obvious to anyone paying any attention that inappropriate conduct was going on. What is unfortunate about these facts is that the plaintiff's bargained-for silence not only failed to constitute sexual harassment, it also immunized the school.

Update: decision is officially reported as: Henderson v. Walled Lake Consolidated Schools, 469 F.3d 479 (6th Cir. 2006).


Anonymous said...

Check out "Deafening Silence" about the issue in women's basketball.

Resources in the addendum

Also Silent Edge (http://www.silent-edge.org/) for skaters

EBuz said...

Thanks for the links. The Michigan case mentioned in this post is in no way an isolated occurence.