VCU women’s volleyball coach James Finley says he was fired because he’s gay. (Photo courtesy of Finley)
An investigation by Virginia Commonwealth Universityâ€™s diversity office has determined that a decision in November to fire the gay coach of the womenâ€™s volleyball team was made â€śin complianceâ€ť with VCUâ€™s employment policies, according to a statement by VCU President Michael Rao.
Coach James Finely, 52, who led his team to a 25-6 winning record in 2012, has accused the schoolâ€™s recently appointed athletics director of declining to renew his contract because of Finelyâ€™s sexual orientation.
â€śThe Office of Institutional Equityâ€™s exhaustive investigation confirmed that the employment decision was made in accordance with VCU policies and not as the result of any discriminatory action by our athletic director,â€ť Rao said in his statement.
â€śThe investigation included fact-finding interviews with 16 individuals and a review of applicable personnel records,â€ť the university said in the statement. â€śThe investigation concluded that allegations of discrimination based on sexual orientation were unsubstantiated.â€ť
It added, â€śThe details of the report cannot be released publicly by VCU without the consent of the complainant because they include confidential personnel information.â€ť
Athletic director Ed McLaughlin has said his reason for not renewing Finleyâ€™s contract was based on plans to take the volleyball program in a â€śdifferent directionâ€ť and had nothing to do with the coachâ€™s sexual orientation.
But Finley has said volleyball players on the team told him McLaughlin told them the university wants a coach who would â€śrepresent the university well,â€ť a comment Finley interprets to mean a gay coach cannot represent the school favorably.
In his own statement responding to VCUâ€™s decision to uphold his firing, Finley said he would review his options for challenging the universityâ€™s action with legal counsel.
â€śIâ€™m obviously disappointed in the outcome of VCUâ€™s initial investigation into my discrimination complaint,â€ť he said. â€śI am dismayed by the poor quality of the investigative procedures followed and by numerous factual inaccuracies included in the report that appear to provide the basis for the conclusion reached,â€ť he said.
Finley said he was especially troubled that procedures followed by the Office of Institutional Equity â€śprovided me with no opportunity to respond to any of the erroneous information brought forward in the investigation to justify the action taken.â€ť
Finley, who issued his statement through the LGBT advocacy group Get Equal, didnâ€™t immediately say whether he would release the investigative report that VCU says was confidential.