VCU Volleyball Coach Fired For Being Gay?

VCUCourtJames 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.

From GayRVA:

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.


  1. Stefan says

    If it was at will employment, they don’t need a reason to fire him. And being X isn’t prima facie evidence that you were discriminated against for being X. I hope he gets some kind of good resolution, since the outcome obviously sucks.

  2. Alan E. says

    @Stefan, VCU has an inclusive diversity focus, and it calls into question how strongly they stand by their own internal guidelines if it isn’t investigated. At will is in relation to state laws, but VCU has made it more stringent for themselves as an internal decision that goes further than the law.

  3. Francis says

    So this is basically my home school and everyone is very upset, and very confused. Nobody really understands or comprehends what happened and why. There is a student meeting that is occurring as we speak, so this isn’t something that is being taken lightly.

    BTW, VCU was just given an award for being a school that champions and promotes diversity and is one of the top 20 most socially liberal universities in the United States. It’s also I’d venture in the 25-30 percent range in terms of LGBT students. It’s a very gay, very liberal artsy school. This isn’t what the school is about. The school unfortunately happens to be in an awful state. The bigoted AD isn’t from the area, either.

    This story is really sad. I think people underestimate how often teachers/coaches/administrators are fired for being gay. It happens A LOT. Especially/usually in suburban/rural/the South, where homophobia is common, where parents are paranoid about their kids being around anyone gay, and where school staffs are full of religious conservative types who don’t want gay people to represent their school and on staff. We really need ENDA passed and there has to be a commitment to ending homophobia in schools and universities.

  4. Joseph Singer says

    Francis, are you not aware that homophobia doesn’t exist? (at least according to the AP.)

  5. Stay Strong says

    Mr. McL is a nice Catholic man from New England (Catholic Boston College) via Washington DC (Methodist American University) and Upstate NY (Catholic Niagara University). I’m sure that he has no agenda against gay people.

  6. Will Smith says

    Coaches come and coaches go — new athletic directors hire and fire them for all kinds of reasons. His long-term record, including graduation rates, was so-so. Last year was fabulous.

    Pat Stauffer was not “demoted”–she’s still got an important title and her exact same salary. I do hope that she’s not being dragged into this as she hasn’t filed a complaint of any kind.

    VCU is serious about diversity–this will be investigated and it there really is a case I think the new AD is history.

  7. Will Smith says

    Note to Francis, who calls Virginia an “awful state” — there are 49 others to move to.

  8. Stay Strong says

    To Will Smith and all: Pat Stauffer had the responsibilities of the Senior Woman Administrator removed from her area. Every NCAA university is required to have an SWA. This woman is the public person and liaison regarding all women’s and equity issues. She is a watchdog of sorts to assure the Athletics Department is complying. Pat was the external representative of the VCU Athletics Department as SWA. If the AD is uncomfortable with LGBT people, he would not be comfortable with an out lesbian associate representing his university. He would probably feel that having an out SWA would be a negative or embarrassment.

    Also, it has been reported that the AD called her in after this story broke and tried to convince her that he had no idea she was a lesbian. (She introduced her partner to him at a department function a few weeks earlier.)

    Please read on: