Lesbian coach sues school over dismissal
The former head coach of the Fresno State University Bulldog Volleyball team, Lindy Vivas, is suing the school for $4.1 million (£2m) for a firing that she says was part of a discrimination campaign against lesbians and women in general.
Testimony began earlier this month in a civil case against the school, and now school officials are taking the stand to rebut her discrimination theories.
After leading the Bulldog volleyball programme for 14 years, Vivas was fired in December despite an overall record of 263-167, with three NCAA Tournament appearances.
In 2002, she was honoured as the WAC Coach of the Year, and the following year her team ranked in the nation’s Top 30 in attendance for the sport.
Vivas was an advocate for Title IX equalities for women in sports, and suggests that her contract was not renewed in 2004 because of her outspoken advocacy of gender equity and her perceived sexual orientation.
The university claims it did not renew her contract two years ago because of her job performance.
Dawn Theodora, the attorney for Fresno State, told reporters that she intended to show the jury that Vivas was an uncooperative employee who was difficult to get along with.
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The university also claims that Vivas was dismissed because she failed to fulfil provisions such as scheduling more Top-25 opponents, winning more post-season matches, and increasing match attendance.
Vivas argued that her team was not allowed to hold matches in the newly built Save Mart Centre, where boys teams were allowed to play, and that is the reason behind lower attendance.
Former Fresno State athletic director Scott Johnson took the stand for the school this week and denied claims that he referred to anyone as a lesbian or devised a hit list of lesbians to fire in the athletic department.
Testimony will continue throughout the week.
Vivas was replaced by Ruben Nieves, which leaves only three female coaches on faculty at Fresno State, and only one of those has more than a years worth of experience.
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