A college volleyball coach has come forth with allegations of workplace discrimination, claiming he was fired for being gay.
James Finley, former VCU volleyball coach, was let go on Nov. 19 despite leading his team to a 25-6 record this season and posting perfect graduation scores, GayRVA reports. He began to suspect his firing wasn't performance-based after hearing the explanation given to his players by the school's new athletic director, Ed McLaughlin.
“He said 'We want someone to better represent the school,' and coach had never done anything to misrepresent the school," Kristin Boyd, a fifth-year veteran of VCU's volleyball program, told GayRVA.
"That really just stabbed me in the heart," Finley said in an interview with NBC 12. "This guy just absolutely doesn't want to have somebody gay on his staff."
Finley claims there's a pattern to the discrimination, noting McLaughlin's tendency to avoid interaction with gay families on campus. He also pointed to the case of Pat Stauffer, a lesbian who has worked in VCU athletics for 30 years and was demoted from Senior Women’s Administrator to Senior Associate AD for Sports Administration in October, GayRVA notes.
In a press release announcing Finley's contract termination, McLaughlin stressed the need for leadership change "to attain our goals of achieving at an elite level nationally." The statement seems to contradict the team's unexpectedly stellar play this season, which was deemed "historic" on the school's own athletics website. In its first year in a new conference, VCU volleyball posted the highest winning percentage in its history and exceeded expectations by finishing third in the standings despite being picked sixth in the A10 Preseason Coaches Poll.
Finley said he believes his record should speak for itself, telling NBC 12 that his performance alone should have been enough to earn the trust of his administration.
"We should be judged on the job we do," he said. "We shouldn't be judged on who we love."