Law Offices of Dan A. Atkerson

College Sports Rife With Gender Discrimination

By Dan Atkerson on April 29, 2015

A series of lawsuits over the course of the last decade suggest that gender discrimination is a prominent issue for female coaches at the college level. In many of these cases, alleged discrimination led to the discharging of female coaches.

A History of Sexism in Sports

The most recent and prominent of these cases involved Shannon Miller, one of the most successful college coaches in the country, counting both males and females. Miller led her women’s ice hockey team to five NCAA national championships at the University of Minnesota – Duluth, as well as a medal with the Canadian Olympic team. Yet right at the end of 2014, she was dismissed from her post after her superiors said her salary was too high. Meanwhile, the men’s hockey coach, a much less successful coach who earned more money, kept his job.

Before that, University of Iowa field hockey coach Tracy Griesbaum lost her job for reasons that her players believe are rooted in gender discrimination. And before that, University of Texas women’s track and field coach Bev Kearney was dismissed due to a consensual relationship with a female student – while male coaches involved in the same types of relationships faced less serious punishment and retained their positions.

Helen Carroll, the sports project director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, believes that these dismissals are a symptom of overt sexism in the sporting world. She believes that the replacement of female officials in the sporting world is due to male leaders and athletic directors calling the shots. Because men’s athletics represent a huge stake for college finances, Carroll believes women are being pushed to the wayside.

What do you think? Is institutional sexism a problem in college athletics?

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