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bethlehempard

Has LC ever fired a coach who was under contract?

I don't know of any but maybe it happens. Is there a specific no-firing policy for coaches with time left regardless of record?
bison137

Wasn't the softball coach basically fired a few years ago - in the middle of the season no less.   She had been coach for about 2.5 seasons at that point, so she clearly had time left on her contract.

At the time, it was said:   "Following discussions with then Coach Meaghan Asselta concerning its direction, Athletic Director Bruce McCutcheon decided to make a change in the leadership of the program and Coach Asselta agreed to resign."


I don't know anything about the reasons, but I assume it was about more than wins and losses.
NewXbo

bison137 wrote:
Wasn't the softball coach basically fired a few years ago - in the middle of the season no less.   She had been coach for about 2.5 seasons at that point, so she clearly had time left on her contract.

At the time, it was said:   "Following discussions with then Coach Meaghan Asselta concerning its direction, Athletic Director Bruce McCutcheon decided to make a change in the leadership of the program and Coach Asselta agreed to resign."


I don't know anything about the reasons, but I assume it was about more than wins and losses.


It  still amazes me how we hired her.  She was an assistant at Rhode Island and was fired after RI was eliminated from their year end tournament. She was fired because she was having an affair with a student/player. I know this as a fact because I know one of the players who was on the team and was present when Asselta was fired. (There are also rumors that she was fired for the same reason at Manhattan College). Apparently the search committee didn't do a very good job of vetting her.

She was fired by Lafayette after getting into a confrontation with one of her players. Don't recall all the details, started with a player throwing a glove after a error. Kind of funny when she refused to move out of the college provided house until the end of the school year. I believe she got a job somewhere else.

We keep saying it's all Bruce's fault. It's hard to blame Bruce when a committee of professors, athletes, and god knows who else have a say in who is hired.
Lafalum

Bruce has the final say, approves the appointment of the committee,  and negotiates the hire. He usually has a lot to say on hires!!
The Maroon

Looks like she's an assistant at FIU.

We made a series of boneheaded hires in softball if memory serves me correctly.
NewXbo

Lafalum wrote:
Bruce has the final say, approves the appointment of the committee,  and negotiates the hire. He usually has a lot to say on hires!!


So if he approves the committee's preference, it really isn't his decision. He just approves the committees decision.

If we want change in the success of our teams maybe we should just let Bruce make the decision. Give him a chance to prove he's the guy for the job.
bethlehempard

That is the mystery, to me. I'm not an insider and I don't know Bruce the way some of you do but my perhaps half-dozen contacts with him over the years have always been positive.
He's an intelligent, hard-working guy who can make a presentation and deal with the public.
The day after 150, when he could have been lingering over an expensive New York brunch, he was at Kirby, doing his job.
He knows sports and sees what we all see and more, so it's hard to figure out why things are, as they are.
Lafalum

NewXbo wrote:
Lafalum wrote:
Bruce has the final say, approves the appointment of the committee,  and negotiates the hire. He usually has a lot to say on hires!!


So if he approves the committee's preference, it really isn't his decision. He just approves the committees decision.

If we want change in the success of our teams maybe we should just let Bruce make the decision. Give him a chance to prove he's the guy for the job.


I should have been more clear he appoints the committee. If Bruce doesn't want the candidate he or she doesn't get hired. Many times he serves on the committee itself. He has the final say. This is how all teaching hires happen at the college with the responsible supervisor as the final hurdle...
as it should be.
We all have made bad hires, and been forced to correct mistakes later...that's harder!!

My impression in Bruce's defense, cost, in most cases has a high priority...maybe too high. We limit our pool of potential candidates!

Most decisions are made in the Athletic Dept with a huge suspicious jealous eye to the budget. Recall during the recession when the college lost a lot of money in its portfolio, the athletic dept. took actual cuts (9%) everything else at the college got frozen. In the view of many faculty members athletic money is a huge pool of resources better spent on academic pursuits. Not all that unusual in the academe, but in a school like ours there were cuts on already small budgets. Asst salaries are especially parsimonious, in most cases.
We need someone to make the case....and champion the enterprise.
pards123

bethlehempard wrote:
That is the mystery, to me. I'm not an insider and I don't know Bruce the way some of you do but my perhaps half-dozen contacts with him over the years have always been positive.
He's an intelligent, hard-working guy who can make a presentation and deal with the public.
The day after 150, when he could have been lingering over an expensive New York brunch, he was at Kirby, doing his job.
He knows sports and sees what we all see and more, so it's hard to figure out why things are, as they are.


No accountability in regards to winning! None! It's just that simple.
Andy

4-24 vs Lehigh this year.  Bruce is tweeting about Inclusion Forum.
seenalot

Bruce is an administrator.  Bruce is not, nor will he ever be a leader of anything.  A politician, maybe but not a leader.

To say a committee is responsible for any head coaching hire and he just approves or endorses it just points to the heart of the problem.  Everyone is looking at everyone else to be responsible and hide with when something goes bad.  Its not fun or easy being the boss, but when you see the $ show up in your account you damn well better TAKE some responsibility for something on behalf of the donors and parents who put it there.  

Would ANYONE on this board who does this for a living let this go on in their business?
pardfan

Maybe whether we win or lose on the athletic field DOESN'T matter.  I'm starting to think that the monster only we (on this board) see out on the wing isn't really there.  Where we see 4-24 v. Lehigh and Patriot League losses piled high to the sky, others see young people enjoying fresh air and healthy competition.  What's being shown--to me, at any rate--is that the inner-Richard Shatner contingent is waaay smaller than we think.  I've come to accept that.
seenalot

What is healthy about a culture of accepting losing 75% of the time?  

Someone think that does not eventually seep into other aspects of the school - admissions, acceptance rates, academic programs, graduates.....
Lafalum

pardfan wrote:
Maybe whether we win or lose on the athletic field DOESN'T matter.  I'm starting to think that the monster only we (on this board) see out on the wing isn't really there.  Where we see 4-24 v. Lehigh and Patriot League losses piled high to the sky, others see young people enjoying fresh air and healthy competition.  What's being shown--to me, at any rate--is that the inner-Richard Shatner contingent is waaay smaller than we think.  I've come to accept that.


If you accept mediocrity you are mediocre. Name the top schools with the some of the most NCAA championships. in all sports...........Stanford and Princeton.

I was struck by a sign in one of the Princeton venues...""education through athletics." In the Princeton and Harvard mission statements they mention performance as an objective. At Princeton they separate the intramural and club experience from the inter collegiate programs.
Both schools emphasize the opportunity to connect with the alumni, student body and community.
To my mind in our recent past with the battle on scholarships, budgets and other items , the effort has been undermined.There was no senior administrator or current BOT member who has stood up as an advocate. Most hide behind the infrastructure to make sure they continue to be invited to cocktail parties. With alumni stepping up to the plate ( 2 million per year) it is contemptible that success on the field is not a stronger objective.
Andy

pardfan wrote:
Maybe whether we win or lose on the athletic field DOESN'T matter.  I'm starting to think that the monster only we (on this board) see out on the wing isn't really there.  Where we see 4-24 v. Lehigh and Patriot League losses piled high to the sky, others see young people enjoying fresh air and healthy competition.  What's being shown--to me, at any rate--is that the inner-Richard Shatner contingent is waaay smaller than we think.  I've come to accept that.


No way you believe that. $18 million for sunshine and competition? That's called intramurals not Division 1 athletics.  $18 million including $8 million in athletically related aid up in smoke.  30% winning percentage year after year is a joke. The AD was rehired. What is his plan?
pardfan

Probably all a defense mechanism.  Again I will state: That day of the Princeton football game, I was pretty excited over where I thought the program was and the possibility of a big win.  I couldn't wait to get to my seat.  I have been trying to put things back in their proper perspective ever since.  CAUTION: MAN AT WORK.

Did I read that right?  Bruce was rehired?  Alison and Bruce II.  Alison is totally tone-deaf.  #150 turned out to be a loss after all. Can't imagine worse news.  No escape now.  We're doomed.
The Maroon

We've grown accustomed to less-than-spectacular (to say the least) but right now we're flirting with a 20% league winning percentage - and that doesn't even get into some of our worst performing sports  - tennis, X-Country, swimming...

This is participatory based athletics at its ugliest.  We're putting together nice video packages and building a brand while our teams are getting absolutely slaughtered.

I remember hearing something to the effect that the Ivy's would be less receptive to playing us when we started giving scholarships. HAH. The Ivy's are lining up to schedule us - we are the ULTIMATE Homecoming/Senior day game. How did we manage to get worse across the board with scholarships?
Interested Pardee

The Maroon wrote:
... How did we manage to get worse across the board with scholarships?

Wow.  That's a great question.  That kind of just hit me in the gut.
Lafalum

Interested Pardee wrote:
The Maroon wrote:
... How did we manage to get worse across the board with scholarships?

Wow.  That's a great question.  That kind of just hit me in the gut.


Actually worse than that, we have scholarships and we are raising almost 2 MILLION DOLLARS a year, more than ever!! So its not scholarships, its not money for the most part...what are we left??
Franks Tanks

No plan.  No accountability.  No burning desire from the top to win games and championships.  

Leadership doesn't seem to have a problem with the situation, so the coaches just go happily along.  LC sports is worse now than they have ever been.  We played, and competed, in the old ECAC pretty well. In the early days of the PL we had a solid overall sports program, and the President's cup standinging from back in the day support this.  

This is the worst Lafayette sports have ever been, despite scholarships, decent funding and pretty good facilities for many sports. There is no end in sight.
The Maroon

This thread got me thinking about someone who WAS fired (albeit few of us get 18 months to clear out our desks!) - Eve Atkinson.
I found a summary of one of the precedings and it was an interesting read. Basically she fought for money (critics would say only for women sports) and eventually they got tired of her.
She proposed eliminating sports (Men's lax, baseball, volleyball and I can't remember what else).
I actually had a good relationship with Eve although I know many didn't. She would have been crucified if she got rid of sports but to me it looks like she definitely had balls.
Eve ticked off too many people to be effective in the end, but I can't help but wonder if Bruce's main appeal is his willingness to just roll with the crap hand he's dealt.
To be fair I have no idea what goes on in meetings - the court documents give a window we don't have for Bruce.
I can't find them right now for whatever reason!
bethlehempard

From 2006 a view of the issues

EDUCATION AMENDMENTS OF 1972

[1] Title IX — Retaliation  ►106.254 ►108.4511

Federal district court improperly dismissed female college athletic director's Title IX claim that she was discharged in retaliation for complaining about funding and staffing for women's sports, since Title IX's private right of action encompasses retaliation claims predicated on sex discrimination allegations.


CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1964

[2] Relationship of action to charge  ►106.254 ►108.0403 ►108.4112 ►108.4505 ►108.6991

Federal district court properly dismissed female college athletics director's Title VII action based on her EEOC charge alleging that she was discharged in retaliation for complaining about funding and staffing for women's sports, where charge complained only about treatment of coaches of women's sports instead of treatment of female coaches, and thus action was predicated on activities protected by Title IX of Education Amendments of 1972, not by Title VII.


[3] Sex — Discharge  ►108.4112 ►108.4118 ►108.73349 ►108.7338

Female college athletics director may not proceed with claim alleging that she was discharged, her tenure claim was rejected, and she was denied faculty appeal in violation of Title VII, despite contentions that she was entitled to tenure because her male predecessor was tenured and that another faculty member was granted appeal, where allegation that argument with male supervisor influenced discharge decision one year later does not show that concerns about her management style and performance deficiencies were pretextual reasons for her discharge, and her appointment letter clearly indicated that she was not entitled to tenure or faculty appeal.


Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Buckwalter, J.
[*448]

Alan B. Epstein, Esquire (Argued), Jennifer L. Myers, Esquire, Spector, Gadon & Rosen P.C., Philadelphia, PA, for Appellant.


John G. Harkins, Jr. (Argued), Neill C. Kling, Esquire, Harkins Cunningham, Barry [*449] Simon, Esquire, Dara P. Newman, Esquire, Simon Moran, Philadelphia, PA, for Appellees.


Dina R. Lassow, Esquire, Jocelyn Samuels, Esquire, National Women's Law Center, Washington, DC, for Amici-Appellants.


R. Alexander Acosta, Assistant Attorney General, Kenneth Marcus, Senior Counsel, Office for Civil Rights, Brian W. Jones, General Counsel, Dennis J. Dimsey, Esquire, Lisa W. Edwards, Esquire, Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Appellate Section, Washington, D.C., for Amicus-Appellant.


Before AMBRO and BECKER,[fn*] Circuit Judges, STAGG,[fn**] District Judge.


[fn*] This case was argued before the panel of Judges Ambro, Becker, and Stagg. Judge Becker died before the filing of this Opinion. It is filed by a quorum of the panel. 28 U.S.C. 46(d).


[fn**] Honorable Tom Stagg, District Judge for the Western District of Louisiana, sitting by designation.



OPINION OF THE COURT



STAGG, District Judge.


In the fall of 1989, Dr. Eve Atkinson ("Atkinson") applied to Lafayette College for the position of "Director of Athletics and Professor and Head, Physical Education and Athletics." She learned of the position from Olav Kollevoll ("Kollevoll"), the departing Director of Athletics at Lafayette College, who had been hired by the College in 1965. Atkinson was hired in December of 1989. Her appointment letter provided, in pertinent part:


. . . [Lafayette College] is pleased to appoint you to the position of Director of Athletics and Professor and Head, Physical Education and Athletics, effective January 29, 1990, with term thereafter at the pleasure of the President of the College and the Board of Trustees. It is further understood that your initial appointment will be through June 30, 1992, and following that period that you would be subject to the procedures for due notice as apply to the faculty which would ensure you a minimum of one year's notice.


Atkinson's employment continued after her initial two and one-half year term. Each year, she received salary letters advising her of an annual increase.


In addition to her appointment letter, the Lafayette College Faculty Handbook and the Statutes of Lafayette College provided further guidance as to the terms and conditions of employment for faculty members. Regarding tenure, the Faculty Handbook stated:


B. Tenure. Tenure as described in the following paragraphs is defined as continuity of service, the institution having relinquished the freedom it normally possesses to terminate appointment, except for cause and subject to provision of the College with respect to retirement.


1. Professors shall have tenure except on an initial appointment to the Lafayette College Faculty. Such initial appointment may be with tenure or for a period not to exceed three years. This appointment shall be followed by appointment with tenure or termination of employment


. . .


5. Notification about Tenure Status. For those not on tenure a decision must be reached by September 1 of the last probationary year as to whether or not tenure will be granted, and the individual must be notified of this decision. In no case, however, [*450] will tenure be granted by default. It is the responsibility of the individual concerned to notify his Department Head of a failure to receive written notification with regard to his continued employment.


From the inception of her employment, Atkinson raised issues of gender equality in the Lafayette College athletic program. In January of 1996, Atkinson specifically raised the issue in the context of the College's athletic budget. As a result of this instance and her continuing efforts, Atkinson claims that she was subjected to gender discrimination by her supervisor, Lafayette College's Dean of Students, Herman Kissiah ("Kissiah"), and that she was subjected to unlawful retaliation, ultimately resulting in her termination.


On November 4, 1999, the President of Lafayette College, Arthur J. Rothkopf ("President Rothkopf"), formally notified Atkinson of his decision to terminate her employment.[fn1] In his termination letter to Atkinson, President Rothkopf expressed his belief that the Lafayette College Athletic Department would benefit from new leadership.[fn2]


Believing that she was a tenured member of the faculty, Atkinson attempted to appeal President Rothkopf's decision. In a letter to him dated November 22, 1999, Atkinson acknowledged that she was given proper notification of her termination from the position of Athletic Director, but argued that, as a tenured professor, she could not be terminated from her faculty position without cause. President Rothkopf refused to accept her claim of tenure and, by letter dated December 13, 1999, explained that Atkinson had never been a tenured member of the faculty, but instead served at the "pleasure of the President," as stated in her initial appointment letter.


On January 6, 2000, Atkinson wrote a second letter to President Rothkopf, further detailing why she felt she was a tenured member of the faculty and requesting a hearing by the faculty tenure review appeals committee. President Rothkopf again responded by letter, explaining that "[s]erving `at the pleasure of the President of the College and the Board of Trustees' is inherently at odds with the `tenure' you are now claiming for the first time." He thus denied her request for a hearing.


On February 18, 2000, Atkinson wrote a letter to the Provost of the College, Dr. June Schlueter ("Provost Schlueter"), reasserting Atkinson's perceived right to remain in her position as a tenured member of the faculty and requesting a faculty appeal. Provost Schlueter responded by stating that she could neither accept Atkinson's claim to have tenure nor act upon her request for a faculty appeal, because her appointment letter expressly stated that she served at the pleasure of the President and the Board.[fn3]


In none of these written exchanges with the President or the Provost did Atkinson [*451] mention an argument she claims to have had with her supervisor, Kissiah, on November 18, 1998. According to Atkinson, on that date, Kissiah became enraged as a result of differing opinions regarding athletics funding and stood over her with his fists raised. Atkinson does, however, claim that she immediately met with Lafayette College's Vice President of Human Resources and General Counsel, and President Rothkopf, following the incident and informed them of such, stating that she was discriminated against because of the allocations she wanted to make to the men's and women's sports programs. Atkinson argues that, as a result of these complaints, she was subjected to retaliation. For example, in April of 1999, Atkinson was relieved of her duties as supervisor of intramurals and recreation, a significant component of her position.


On May 2, 2000, Atkinson filed a complaint under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act ("PHRA"), 43 Pa. Stat. 951 et seq. The complaint, filed with Pennsylvania's Human Relations Commission ("PHRC"), challenged her termination and the denial of her tenure status and requested faculty appeals. In it, Atkinson alleged that she was terminated and denied a faculty appeal based on her gender and Lafayette College's pattern and practice of discharging qualified female employees, and that similarly situated males had not been terminated or had the status of their tenure denied under similar circumstances. She did not allege retaliation in her PHRC complaint, which was also filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").


On July 10, 2000, Atkinson responded to an EEOC questionnaire concerning her employment claim by submitting a verified document entitled "Allegations of Employment Discrimination," wherein she stated that the basis for her charge was sex, retaliation and age. Atkinson's allegation of sex discrimination was that she was treated differently from similarly situated males. She further alleged that her "notice of termination [was] retaliation against her for her insistence that Title IX antidiscrimination law be followed, i.e., that additional financial funding and personnel be given to the women's sports programs."


Atkinson then filed suit in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Thereafter, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss. The District Court granted the defendants' motion for partial dismissal as to Atkinson's retaliation claims under Title IX, finding that under Alexander v. Sandoval, 532 U.S. 275, 121 S.Ct. 1511, 149 L.Ed.2d 517 (2001), there was no private right of action to enforce such claims. The District Court further granted the defendants' motion for partial dismissal on Atkinson's claims of breach of contract and Title VII claims against President Rothkopf individually. The defendants then moved for summary judgment as to all of Atkinson's remaining claims, which was granted in its entirety.


A. Standard Of Review.


We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1291. Our standard of review of the District Court's dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6) is plenary. See Evancho v. Fisher, 423 F.3d 347, 350 (3d Cir. 2005). Our review of a grant of summary judgment is also plenary, and we must grant all reasonable inferences from the evidence of the non-moving party. See Anderson v. Consol. Rail Corp., 297 F.3d 242, 246-47 (3d Cir. 2002).


B. Title IX.


[1] The United States Supreme Court decided the case of Jackson v. Birmingham Board of Education, 544 U.S. 167, 125 S.Ct. 1497, 161 L.Ed.2d 361 (2005), on March 29, 2005, holding that [*452] Title IX's private right of action encompasses claims of retaliation against an individual because he or she has complained about sex discrimination. The basis for the District Court's dismissal in Atkinson's case for failure to state a claim for relief under Title IX is inconsistent with the decision in Jackson. Accordingly, the dismissal of Atkins's Title IX retaliation claim must be vacated and the case remanded for further proceedings consistent with Jackson.


C. Breach Of Contract.


Atkinson contends that Lafayette College breached her contract of employment by terminating her. In interpreting a contract, a court must first consider the "intent of the parties as expressed in the words used in the agreement." Martin v. Monumental Life Ins. Co., 240 F.3d 223, 232-33 (3d Cir. 2001) (citing Mellon Bank, N.A. v. Aetna Bus. Credit, 619 F.2d 1001, 1009 (3d Cir. 1980)). Where the language is clear and unambiguous, the express terms of the contract will control. See Bohler-Uddeholm Am., Inc. v. Ellwood Group, Inc., 247 F.3d 79, 92-93 (3d Cir. 2001). The court can grant summary judgment on an issue of contract interpretation if the contractual language being interpreted "is subject to only one reasonable interpretation." Arnold M. Diamond, Inc. v. Gulf Coast Trailing Co., 180 F.3d 518, 521 (3d Cir. 1999) (citations omitted).


Atkinson's appointment letter clearly provides that the term (singular) of her position (singular) is "at the pleasure of the President of the College and the Board of Trustees." This language expressly negates any possibility of tenured status as a faculty member.


Atkinson, however, argues that the word "and" separates the three aspects of her position Director of Athletics, Professor, and Head, Physical Education and Athletics and, thus, that the position of professor was a separate and individual position.[fn4] She contends that the words "at the pleasure of the President of the College and the Board of Trustees" refer only to her roles as Director of Athletics and Department Head, rather than to her position as a professor.


Simply stated, Atkinson's attempt to construe her appointment letter to provide that she was entitled to tenure is an attempt to create ambiguity where there is none. The appointment letter expressly provides that, after the initial two and one-half years, her appointment would lack a defined temporal period, stating that "following that [initial] period you would be subject to the procedures for due notice as applied to the faculty which would insure you a minimum of one year's notice."[fn5] [*453]


In short, the language of Atkinson's appointment letter is clear and unambiguous. It unequivocally provides that she was to serve at the pleasure of the President of the College and its Board of Trustees. She cannot now revise the words of her employment letter into a document that provides a position that was guaranteed tenure. Nor can she somehow claim to have received tenure by default, as Lafayette College's provisions on tenure clearly do not allow tenure to occur simply by inaction. See Lafayette College Faculty Handbook, supra, at 3-4 ("In no case, however, will tenure be granted by default."). Thus, the District Court correctly concluded that Atkinson's claim for breach of contract could not survive summary judgment.


3. Retaliation.


Atkinson next alleges that the defendants retaliated against her, in violation of Title VII and the PHRA, for opposing practices of gender discrimination. Generally, before filing a Title VII suit, an employee must file a complaint with the EEOC to attempt to resolve the dispute before involving litigation. See Waiters v. Parsons, 729 F.2d 233, 237 (3d Cir. 1984). The District Court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants on Atkinson's retaliation 66claims under Title VII and the PHRA, finding that she had failed to exhaust her administrative remedies for these claims.


This Court has held that "the parameters of the civil action in the district court are defined by the scope of the EEOC investigation which can reasonably be expected to grow out of the charge of discrimination." Ostapowicz v. Johnson Bronze Co., 541 F.2d 394, 398-99 (3d Cir. 1976) (citations omitted). As already noted, Atkinson failed to mention retaliation in her PHRC complaint, but she did include it in her response to the EEOC questionnaire, which clarified that the retaliation she allegedly suffered stemmed only from her opposition to gender inequity in the funding of sports programs at Lafayette College. The District Court found this type of retaliation constituted retaliation under Title IX, but that Title VII's prohibition against retaliation did not cover that type of funding activity, citing Lamb-Bowman v. Delaware State University, 39 F. App'x 748, 750 (3d Cir. 2002).


[2] Atkinson's Title VII retaliation claims were properly dismissed by the District Court because the allegations in her complaint did not fall "fairly within the scope of the . . . EEOC complaint, or the investigation arising therefrom." Antol v. Perry, 82 F.3d 1291, 1295 (3d Cir. 1996). The criticisms made by Atkinson pertained only to the treatment of coaches of women's sports, as opposed to the treatment of coaches who were women. As such, Atkinson's retaliation claim is more properly characterized as a claim predicated on activities in support of Title IX, rather than a claim predicated on activities protected under Title VII. Accordingly, the District Court committed no error in entering summary judgment for the defendants on Atkinson's retaliation claim.


D. Gender Discrimination Claims.


Title VII prohibits employers from engaging in discrimination on the basis of [*454] race, color, religion, sex or national origin. See 42 U.S.C. 2000e-2. To prevail on a claim for sex discrimination under Title VII or its analogous provision in the PHRA,[fn6] Atkinson must satisfy the three-step burden-shifting inquiry under McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green, 411 U.S. 792, 802-04, 93 S.Ct. 1817, 36 L.Ed.2d 668 (1973).[fn7] First, she must establish a prima facie case of sex discrimination. If she succeeds, the burden shifts to Lafayette College to advance a legitimate, non-retaliatory reason for its action. See id. at 802-03, 411 U.S. 792, 93 S.Ct. 1817, 36 L.Ed.2d 668. If the College advances such a position, the burden shifts back to Atkinson to prove that the nondiscriminatory explanation is merely a pretext for discrimination. Id. at 804, 411 U.S. 792, 93 S.Ct. 1817, 36 L.Ed.2d 668.


This Court will assume, without deciding, that Atkinson established a prima facie case of discrimination. Atkinson does not contest that Lafayette College articulated legitimate, nondiscriminatory reasons for each of the actions alleged to have been discriminatory her termination, the denial of her claim to have tenure and the denial of her request for a faculty appeal. Thus, the burden shifts back to Atkinson to prove that the reasons articulated by Lafayette College[fn8] were pretextual. We have recognized two ways in which a plaintiff can prove pretext. First, the plaintiff can present evidence that "casts sufficient doubt upon each of the legitimate reasons proffered by the defendant so that a factfinder could reasonably conclude that each reason was a fabrication." Fuentes v. Perskie, 32 F.3d 759, 762 (3d Cir. 1994). Second, and alternatively, the plaintiff can provide evidence that "allows the factfinder to infer that discrimination was more likely than not a motivating or determinative cause of the adverse employment action." Id. "[T]he nonmoving plaintiff must demonstrate such weaknesses, implausibilities, inconsistencies, incoherencies, or contradictions in the employer's proffered legitimate reasons for its actions that a reasonable factfinder could rationally find them unworthy of credence." Keller v. Orix Credit Alliance, Inc., 130 F.3d 1101, 1108-09 (3d Cir. 1997) (citation omitted). The plaintiff must show not merely that the employer's proffered reason was wrong, but that it was "so plainly wrong that it cannot have been the employer's real reason." Id. at 1109. "The question is not whether the employer made the best, or even a sound, business decision; it is whether the real reason is [discrimination]." Id. (citation omitted).


[3] Atkinson has failed to challenge President Rothkopf's reasons for her termination. Instead, she suggests that President Rothkopf's beliefs about her management style and inadequacies were influenced by Kissiah, with whom she allegedly had an argument twelve months earlier (prior to receiving notice of her [*455] termination), and who she alleges is "harder on females." This is pure conjecture and is wholly insufficient. Furthermore, Atkinson does not raise any genuine issues of material fact that the reason given by President Rothkopf and Provost Schlueter for not recognizing her as having tenure (the language of her employment agreement) was pretextual. Instead, she essentially contends that because her predecessor, Kollevoll, had tenure, then she had tenure. However, as previously mentioned, her appointment was clearly not comparable to Kollevoll's. Finally, Atkinson's pretext argument regarding the availability of a faculty appeal is similarly flawed. She contends that another faculty member was given an appeal when she was not. However, she fails to note the fundamental distinction of the specific language of her appointment letter, which rendered faculty interference with her termination inappropriate.


Faced with legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for Lafayette College's actions, the burden of proof rested with Atkinson to demonstrate that the reasons proffered were pretextual and that gender was a determinative factor in the decisions. See Watson v. SEPTA, 207 F.3d 207, 215 (3d Cir. 2000). She has failed to satisfy her burden. The District Court correctly found that Atkinson failed to point to any evidence that demonstrated weaknesses, implausibilities, inconsistencies, incoherencies or contradictions in Lafayette College's reasons for its employment decisions. A reasonable jury could not find that Atkinson's gender played a role in the decisions at issue.[fn9]


E. Conclusion.


The District Court's ruling dismissing Atkinson's claim under Title IX is reversed and remanded in accordance with Jackson v. Birmingham Board of Education, 544 U.S. 167, 125 S.Ct. 1497, 161 L.Ed.2d 361 (2005). We affirm its rulings in all other respects.


[fn1] The termination was to be effective approximately one and one-half years later, on June 30, 2001, due to the notice required by Lafayette College's procedures. A male succeeded Atkinson as Director of Athletics.


[fn2] In answers to interrogatories, President Rothkopf expounded by stating, inter alia, that he believed that Atkinson's leadership and management skills were deficient and that her management style alienated others, and led to poor relations and low morale.


[fn3] In a declaration attached to the defendants' motion for summary judgment, Schlueter also noted that two separate sets of minutes from the Appointments, Promotions and Dismissals Committee of 1989 stated that the position of Athletic Director and Professor of Physical Education would be a twelve month administrative position with faculty rank and status but without tenure at the time of the appointment or in the future.


[fn4] A finding that the appointment letter is unambiguous, which the wording of the appointment letter necessitates, negates the use of parol evidence, which Atkinson sought to use in support of her argument. For example, one of the many items outside of the four corners of her appointment letter upon which Atkinson attempts to rely is a draft report from the Promotion, Tenure and Review Committee of Lafayette College, wherein two members of the committee indicated their belief that Atkinson was entitled to tenure or, at a minimum, an appeal. However, this conclusion by two members of the committee was reached in a draft report, prior to either member having reviewed Atkinson's appointment letter. Thus, neither this, nor any of her other arguments, overcomes the clearly unambiguous wording of her appointment letter.


[fn5] In a further attempt to interpret the unambiguous language of her contract, Atkinson also refers us to her predecessor's appointment letter and subsequent treatment to illustrate that a male received tenure when she did not. However, this reliance only serves to highlight the differences between Kollevoll and Atkinson. Kollevoll's letter specifically applied the language "with term at the pleasure of the President of the College" onlyto his appointment as Director of Athletics and Physical Education. His letter further stated, in a separate clause, that he was appointed "as Professor of Physical Education for a term of five years (1965-70)." Finally, Kollevoll's appointment letter specifically held open the possibility of faculty tenure, providing that "reappointment beyond the initial term would normally involve decision on continuous tenure in the professional position." These provisions were noticeably absent from Atkinson's letter.


[fn6] Claims under the PHRA are interpreted coextensively with Title VII claims. See Kelly v. Drexel Univ.,94 F.3d 102, 105 (3d Cir. 1996).


[fn7] Because Atkinson seeks to establish her gender discrimination claim through indirect evidence, we follow the evidentiary framework set forth in McDonnell Douglas.


[fn8] With respect to termination, President Rothkopf's November 4, 1999 letter to Atkinson explained that he had concluded that the Athletic Department needed new leadership. With respect to Atkinson's claim that she was entitled to tenure, President Rothkopf explained that it was wholly inconsistent with the terms of her appointment letter. Similarly, with respect to the denial of Atkinson's request for a faculty appeal, the terms of her appointment letter removed the issue from the faculty's consideration.


[fn9] Atkinson's claims for sex discrimination appear to be focused upon her advocacy of Title IX issues, and are more appropriately considered as Title IX claims, which she will now have a chance to fully explore before the District Court.
bison137

More from 2009:

http://www.leagle.com/decision/In...KINSON%20v.%20LAFAYETTE%20COLLEGE
Lafalum

It was pretty well known around the college she was fired by an enraged Rothkopf who was upset because she revealed to selected people ( student athletes, influential alumni, and the press) that Rothkopf was attempting to drop football and move the college to div 3. The Bot then under Larry Ramer had an offsite meeting in NYC to have the BOT endorse the plan. They did not, under enormous alumni pressure. Several years later because everyone but Lafayette began giving scholarships the issue emerged again and a civil war broke out on the BOT. The morning call closely followed the issue and eventually Walter Oeschle, in a profile in courage resigned from the BOT and called for Rothkopf's resignation and offered to pay his separation pay.
That was a five year struggle over athletics that ended with Weiss approving scholarships for M/W basketball and limited scholarship for men's soccer and field hockey.
Several year later Weiss made a stupid remark to the school newspaper questioning whether Lafayette should be in division 1 while he engineered a delay in the PL giving football scholarships. ( Fordham had forced the issue much like Holy Cross did years earlier). I imagine he was pandering to certain elements of the faculty and residual members of the Ramer BOT.
During this time students became involved with counter underground newspapers etc.
The president of the BOT eventually had to be forced to issue a public statement about our commitment to the Patriot League and Division one.

Since then the department is run by the people who rose during the Rothkpf/Ramer era and the rest of the League has moved on. Sixteen years later there are remnants that remain of the dispute by the side that lost. Rothkopf is an emeritus member of the BOT and attends meetings. He didn't for many years.Walter Oeschle is a member recently elected to emeritus status (money talks) I don't believe he attends meetings regularly.
Time and eventual changes on the BOT will finally put it to rest.
To show how bizarre the faculty can be, originally they voted in mid decade not have athletic scholarship 100-2 I have heard, eventually they voted 100-2 the other way. (Perhaps because Weiss couldn't launch a campaign).

It was an incredible waste of resources and good will.
Andy

The Maroon wrote:
This thread got me thinking about someone who WAS fired (albeit few of us get 18 months to clear out our desks!) - Eve Atkinson.
I found a summary of one of the precedings and it was an interesting read. Basically she fought for money (critics would say only for women sports) and eventually they got tired of her.
She proposed eliminating sports (Men's lax, baseball, volleyball and I can't remember what else).
I actually had a good relationship with Eve although I know many didn't. She would have been crucified if she got rid of sports but to me it looks like she definitely had balls.
Eve ticked off too many people to be effective in the end, but I can't help but wonder if Bruce's main appeal is his willingness to just roll with the crap hand he's dealt.
To be fair I have no idea what goes on in meetings - the court documents give a window we don't have for Bruce.
I can't find them right now for whatever reason!


Like you I'd read it all before and came away thinking "Eve, my hero." (Except for the desire to drop certain major sports).  Found it ironic that "football staff" were badmouthing her ( according to Kissiah) when she well may have been responsible for retention of the program, the Div-1 status, and their jobs.  Certainly football (thanks to alumni) has remained well and better funded under Bruce, still one can appreciate Atkinson's efforts now as we want Bruce to "do something!" about the dept as a whole.

Thanks, too, to Lafalum for the insight.
Lafalum

Andy wrote:
The Maroon wrote:
This thread got me thinking about someone who WAS fired (albeit few of us get 18 months to clear out our desks!) - Eve Atkinson.
I found a summary of one of the precedings and it was an interesting read. Basically she fought for money (critics would say only for women sports) and eventually they got tired of her.
She proposed eliminating sports (Men's lax, baseball, volleyball and I can't remember what else).
I actually had a good relationship with Eve although I know many didn't. She would have been crucified if she got rid of sports but to me it looks like she definitely had balls.
Eve ticked off too many people to be effective in the end, but I can't help but wonder if Bruce's main appeal is his willingness to just roll with the crap hand he's dealt.
To be fair I have no idea what goes on in meetings - the court documents give a window we don't have for Bruce.
I can't find them right now for whatever reason!


Like you I'd read it all before and came away thinking "Eve, my hero." (Except for the desire to drop certain major sports).  Found it ironic that "football staff" were badmouthing her ( according to Krivoski) when she well may have been responsible for retention of the program, the Div-1 status, and their jobs.  Certainly football (thanks to alumni) has remained well and better funded under Bruce, still one can appreciate Atkinson's efforts now as we want Bruce to "do something!" about the dept as a whole.

Thanks, too, to Lafalum for the insight.


I think Eve was trying to force the issue given the small budgets she was given for 23 sports. Rothkopf responded to the uproar by trying to put the blame on her shoulder. As our friend Paul Reinhart had reported Rothkopf was overheard to say "We should be Div 3 and I am the president to do it." No love between the two.
BPard

Many faculty members are supportive of athletics. One of our professors was the first Executive Director of the Patriot League!

I have heard many insiders comment that Lafayette is an extremely political place to work, and they do not mean this is as a compliment. The College is definitely more political than the private sector (where results actually matter), and they comment that it is more political than most comparable peer institutions.

This is a cultural issue across the institution that affects faculty, administration, and staff. It doesn't surprise me to see it manifest in the athletics department as well. Sounds to me like Eve was fired, and Bruce retained/rehired both for political reasons. Likewise for the retention of coaching staffs without accountability for performance on the field.

The College values those who do not rock the boat more than performance.
SixtyEighter

We on this "forum" are merely jousting at windmills. Athletics is the step child of Lafayette College and possibly its bastard. If someone like Jack Bourger is treated like a pariah what can be expected of the Athletic Department other than what we have?
Lafalum

I look to Holy Cross who is/was in a similar position. For some internal reason( I invite a knowledgeable alum to comment), they have fired two basketball coaches, the AD, and are raising and spending 90 million dollars on new facilities. I think Pine (the new AD) has fired 5 coaches and they are shaking off their version of Art Rothkopf ( FR.Brooks).
So it can happen. I have always believed its not just about the money. Perhaps, as Byerly gets to spend time with her peers in the PL she will see the handwriting on the wall. There is a good chance we will see new leadership on our BOT as well soon.
pardfan

classmate Jack Bourger treated like that?  wow.

agree totally about HC and how we might learn from them

unfortunately, losing might be too much a part of our culture at this point

plus, no matter what you're talking about--sports, whatever--the Patriot League is tough competition.

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