There are now two plaintiffs charging that Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) retaliated against them when they spoke up about alleged gender inequities within the university’s athletic program.
Holly Vaughn, the former women’s golf coach at FGCU, has joined former women’s volleyball coach Jaye Flood in a complaint that rests upon Title IX. Vaughn and Flood are the only two female head coaches in FGCU’s history.
After a stint on the professional women’s golf tour where she was a finalist in the 1994 U.S. Women’s Open, Vaughn came to FGCU in 2000 and turned around the program, guiding it to a No. 3 ranking in NCAA Division II and earning accolades as the Atlantic Sun Conference “Coach of the Year.”
The lawsuit, amended to include Vaughn’s retaliation claim, claims she was repeatedly rebuffed by sports administrators when she pointed to discrepancies like inadequate facilities for female coaches. Once, the suit says, Athletic Director Carl McAloose responded to her gender equity questions by saying, “If you don’t like it here, you can get the hell out.”
The suit further alleges that things grew far worse for Vaughn and Flood after they, along with the two female assistant coaches at FGCU, provided information for a letter to FGCU’s president discussing gender inequities in the school’s athletic department. Both head coaches, the suit alleges, were then subjected to demonstrably false performance appraisals.
Other accusations included:
• Vaughn was not permitted to select her own assistant coach.
• Vaughn was directed to move her office out of Alico Arena and into an outdoor trailer, becoming the only head coach to have an office in the trailer, which she shared with the assistant men’s golf coach, the academic advisor and the construction crew making improvements on the facilities.
• Except for one tournament in 2003, FGCU administrators did not attend women’s golf team events or competitions leaving Vaughn and her female student-athletes “unappreciated and undervalued.”
FGCU’s former General Counsel Wendy Morris sued the university earlier this spring, charging that it retaliated against her after she refused to go along with the Athletic Director’s plan to oust Flood as well as expressed concerns about possible gender discrimination and retaliation in the athletic department.
Morris was placed on administrative leave in June 2007, and was given notice a month later that her contract would not be renewed when it expired.