James Finley, coach for eight years of Virginia Commonwealth University’s women’s volleyball team, says he was fired for being gay. According to him, new athletic director Ed McLaughlin gave him and another openly gay employee the boot after the end of successful seasons.
Finley didn’t think much of [his being fired] as the season passed,
but on Oct. 5th, when Pat Stauffer, a 30-year-veteran of VCU athletics
and an open lesbian, was demoted from Senior Women’s Administrator to
Sr. Associate AD for Sports Administration. It was too much for Finley,
it was another red flag.
“If one things happens, OK, it happens; but if it happens a
second time, it’s a pattern,” said Finley when he connected the dots.
The lack of interaction all season and the circumstances of his
dismissal became suspect.
Since his meeting with McLaughlin, Finley has taken action
within the university system to solve his problem. He met with VCU’s VP
of Diversity this week. He was told diversity was one of VCU’s core
values, and that an investigation was started to examine his dismissal
and his charge of discrimination. When asked what he wanted, Finley said
“I’d like to have my job back.”
And Finley doesn’t blame VCU or the rest of the
administration for this issue. He made it clear that he has faith in the
system’s ability to clear up the issue. “I have a lot of confidence in [VCU President]
Dr. Rao and the university to enforce the anti-discrimination policy in
this situation,” he said.
The school would not comment on Finley’s claim, except to say, “The employment action — non renewal of the contract — was taken in
compliance with appropriate VCU employment practices and policies,” and that the school is committed to diversity.