Friday, April 30, 2010

Trial Held in Potera-Haskins Case

We've been following the Title IX retaliation case against Montana State University, filed by former basketball coach Robin Potera-Haskins. Potera-Haskins claimed that she was terminated from her position because she complained about the inequitable conditions for the women's athletics including coaching salaries and benefits, access to facilities, funding for tournaments, and the university's efforts to secure corporate sponsors and otherwise promote the team. She also alleges she received pressure from Athletic Director Peter Fields to offer a spot on the team to a friend of his who lacked the talent required of Division I program, and that her reluctance to do so also made her a target for retaliation.

Last week, the district court in Montana held a four-day bench trial, during which Coach Potera-Haskins testified in support of her allegations. The former men's basketball coach and an associate athletic department officials also testified "they knew of no instances when administrators meddled in the activities of men's coaches" to the degree Fields had micromanaged Potera-Haskins. Her former assistant coach testified that the coach had not mistreated players, as the athletic department claimed as the basis for her termination.

The judge -- who had prior to trial ruled that Potera-Haskins could not recover any monetary damages (because MSU already paid Potera-Haskins for terminating her employment, pursuant to the liquidated damages clause in her employment contract) and refused to give her a jury trial -- is not expected to make a ruling on MSU's liability and Potera-Haskins's eligibility for injunctive relief such as reinstatement for at least two months.