Former UT Martin coach files lawsuit

Former UT Martin coach files lawsuit
A lawsuit has been filed in federal court in Jackson for the Western District of Tennessee alleging sex discrimination at the University of Tennessee-Martin against a former women’s volleyball coach. An additional complaint has been filed with the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, alleging violations of Title IX, the 1972 law that bans discrimination on the basis of gender in educational institutions that receive federal funds. Don Donati of Donati Law Firm, LLP, who has a successful track record of representing clients who have faced harassment, discrimination, and experienced retaliation in the workplace, is representing Amy Draper, a Division I Head Volleyball Coach. Donati’s co-counsel is noted civil rights attorney, Cheryl Wattley of Dallas, Texas. Draper, who was terminated in January 2008, was replaced by an interim male coach who has neither the coaching experience nor educational qualifications Draper had. Donati explained since UT-Martin receives federal funding, it is mandated to follow Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972. Draper’s Title IX complaint was filed in March 2008 in Atlanta and is currently under review. “This case is about the gross inequities between women’s and men’s athletics at UT-Martin,” said Donati. “My client was discriminated against and retaliated against because she sought to improve conditions for her athletes. Even though she had exemplary job performance reviews, Phil Dane, the athletic director, and Danelle Fabianich, assistant athletic director, violated her civil rights and displayed appalling bad judgment in how they treated Ms. Draper. “Unfortunately, this happens all too often to females in head coaching positions. There is a long track record of universities not taking corrective action regarding the inequitable treatment of women’s athletics. It’s unfortunate that UT-Martin, and the entire UT system, have turned a blind eye to this blatant discrimination,” Donati added. UT-Martin has been notified and alerted of the deficiencies in credentials regarding the interim head volleyball coach. In fact, the Women’s Sports Foundation reported its concerns regarding this issue to Chancellor Tom Rakes on January 28, 2008. At that time, Chancellor Rakes was notified that individuals had reported particular concerns that there are substantial differences in the provision of quality coaching and in the amount of coaching available to the women’s teams at UT-Martin. Prior to Draper’s hiring, UT-Martin was undergoing the NCAA’s recertification process during which the NCAA evaluates whether colleges and universities are in compliance with its policies and procedures, including those embodied in Title IX. UT-Martin’s athletic department was also undergoing a self-assessment, in which it is believed that UT-Martin found several deficiencies in the area of gender equity, according to the complaint filed in federal court. During her time at UT-Martin, Draper received numerous messages from players, parents, and university officials thanking her for her efforts and performance as Head Coach of Women’s Volleyball. In addition to being successful athletes, Draper’s players also performed well academically, maintaining one of the highest combined grade point averages of any varsity athletic team on campus. This academic success was recognized on a national level as Draper’s team won American Volleyball Coaches Association Awards in 2005 and in 2006. Donati said he will be utilizing experts on Title IX as part of Draper’s case against UT-Martin. Bud Grimes, Director of University Relations, said that the university could not comment on pending litigation at this time.

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