BY ADAM ROGAN
Drake University and its women’s basketball coach have requested an Iowa Circuit Court to dismiss the lawsuit filed by former Drake Women’s Basketball assistant coach who alleges that she was discriminated against and fired because of her sexual orientation.
Courtney Graham was as an assistant coach at Drake from May 2012 until May 2015, when she was asked to resign. Both parties agree on this, but not much else.
Graham, who is a lesbian, alleges that she was discriminated against because of her sexuality. She accuses the university and head coach Jennie Baranczyk of disclosing private medical information, reducing Graham’s assigned duties, and excluding her from team meetings and scouting trips, according to the original lawsuit.
In the motion to dismiss, filed on March 14, Drake and Barancyzk said that the responsibility rollbacks and eventual firing were because Graham had failed to perform to the expectations the job required of her and had nothing to do with her sexuality.
According to Jeffrey Janssen, one of Graham’s lawyers, a motion to dismiss is a common action taken by defendants.
Janssen said that lawyers for Drake and Baranczyk helped create the schedule for when court material — such as witness lists and evidence — should be submitted if the case ends up in court. This implies that they don’t believe the case will be dismissed despite their attempt to get it thrown out, Janssen said.
If the proposed schedule is followed, a courtroom trial would begin in April 2018.
“Both parties want to see (the case) go away, but I think it will go the long haul,” Janssen said.
The motion to dismiss the case was filed on the heels of Drake Women’s Basketball’s first conference tournament championship in a decade.
Janssen says Baranczyk’s and Graham’s personalities are pushing the case toward court, rather than an outside settlement.
“They always work hard to win any given game, or any given trial … The coach mentality is to see what the final scoreboard says. They both want victory. That’s their drive,” Janssen said. “Even if you think you have a 10 or 20 percent chance of winning, you still want to fight for it.”
In an email to The Times-Delphic, Drake Athletic Director Sandy Hatfield Clubb said, “(Drake Athletics is) working through the legal process, and when we are able to share more, we will do so.”
The Graham case isn’t the only one the university is dealing with right now.
Drake University is currently in a lawsuit filed by former head athletic trainer Scott Kerr, who says he was wrongfully fired because of a medical condition. Former board of trustees member Tom Rossley sued the university in February, claiming he was voted off the board unlawfully after he persistently pursued what he felt was an unjust expulsion of his son in spring 2016.