ONLINE EXCLUSIVE BY ADAM ROGAN
A former Drake Women’s Basketball assistant coach, Courtney Graham, has filed a civil rights lawsuit against Drake University, claiming she was forced to resign from her post due to her sexual orientation.
On Dec. 23, Graham’s lawyer filed a federal court complaint against Drake University and Women’s Basketball head coach Jennie Barancyzk.
Graham worked as a coach for Drake Women’s Basketball from May 2012 until she was asked to resign in May 2015. She made “numerous attempts to stay on her job” before officially resigning on June 5, 2015, according to the court filing.
The court filing claims that Graham was discriminated against by having her responsibilities stripped and being sent home without explanation after her sexuality became known in November 2014 when Graham’s girlfriend, to whom she is now married, attended a game at the Knapp Center.
The filing also said that, after finding out about Graham’s sexuality, Barancyzk told fellow staff members that Graham had been diagnosed with ADHD and was receiving therapy.
Barancyzk has been Drake Women’s Basketball’s head coach since the 2012-13 season. Since then, the team has posted four consecutive winning seasons with two WNIT postseason appearances.
This is the second civil rights case filed against the university in less than two months, both coming from former Drake Athletics staff members. In November, former Head Athletic Trainer Scott Kerr sued the school after being fired two months earlier, believing he was let go unlawfully because of a medical condition. Read our story on his firing here.
In a statement, Drake University said that it “denies the claims and allegations made by former assistant women’s basketball coach Courtney Graham.” The statement went on to say that “Drake University and head women’s basketball coach Jennie Baranczyk have a strong commitment to diversity, tolerance, and non-discrimination.”
Drake’s statement claims that the Iowa Civil Rights Commission “found the facts and information did not support a reasonable possibility that further investigation would reveal discrimination occurred.”
However, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) still issued a “Right to Sue” letter on Graham’s behalf on Oct. 28.
In an email, an Iowa Civil Rights Commission spokeswoman told The Times-Delphic that Graham is allowed to pursue a civil case so long as an administrative judge had not issued a “no probable cause order,” which has apparently not occurred in this case. The specifics of Graham’s Iowa Civil Rights Commission case are confidential.
The court filing requested a trial by jury to settle the case.
This lawsuit marks a continuation of uncertainty for the athletics department. In addition to the lawsuit from Kerr, Ray Giacoletti, the men’s basketball coach, resigned in the middle of the season.