Wednesday, January 23, 2008

FGCU Announces Conclusion of External Investigation

Yesterday Florida Gulf Coast University President Wilson Bradshaw announced conclusions from the University's external investigation into charges of sex discrimination within the athletic department. As part of the announcement, Bradshaw said that the one of investigation's findings, that head volleyball coach Jaye Flood, had an inappropriate relationship with a student intern, was resulting in her termination. Flood, who filed a lawsuit against the university last week, issued a statement calling the claim "completely baseless" and further evidence of the university's retaliation against her for advocating gender equity.

The external investigation, conducted by law firm Littler Mendelson, issued its report yesterday on an array matters involving gender equity. Among its conclusions:
  • The FGCU athletic department is in compliance with the Title IX regulations. The athletic department satisfies the requirement for equitable participation opportunities under prong two, because it has continued to add women's teams since its inception in 2000. It also complies with the other requirements that mandate equitable treatment of men's and women's programs, including access to facilities, coaching, publicity, etc. The report also concluded that the lack of female head coaches (only 2) was not the result of discrimination by the athletic director, as charged by former interim AD Merrily Dean Baker. However, the report does not address a major theme in Merrily Dean Baker's complaint, which was about the hostile, intimidating atmosphere for female coaches.
  • That there is no evidence that volleyball coach Jaye Flood and golf coach Holly Vaughn received a negative performance review in retaliation for their advocacy for gender equity within the department. However, the report also found that there was no evidence support either coach's negative performance review in the first place. The negative reviews will be voided, the athletic director and senior women's administrator who signed them will be reprimanded, and Flood will receive the bonus and retroactive pay increase she would have received had her review been positive.
  • There was insufficient evidence to substantiate a complaint of an inappropriate physical altercation between Coach Flood and a student-athlete (the "shirt tugging incident"). There was also insufficient evidence to substantiate allegation of inappropriate sexual contact by Coach Flood and a person not associated with the University while on a volleyball road trip.
  • However, as noted above, there was sufficient evidence to support claims that Flood had an "inappropriate relationship" with a student manager of the volleyball team, more specifically, that Flood used her position of the authority over this student to pursue an "amorous" relationship with her, which, as we've also noted, Flood has denied. But I don't think we've read the last word on this issue. Because Flood cooperated with the investigation, she and her lawyers must have known that these allegations were coming. I doubt she would have gone on the offensive and filed a lawsuit against the university if she didn't have a basis for challenging them.
We'll be watching the news from Naples closely for further developments on the lawsuit and any other fallout from the yesterday's announcement.