Coach Claims He Was Fired Because of Opinions, Gender

May 8, 2004

Peter Tegen, the former women’s track and cross country coach for the University of Wisconsin, has sued the school, claiming it discriminated against him because of his age and gender as well as the fact that he expressed his opinion on sensitive issues.
Tegen, who is represented by attorney Victor M. Arellano of Lawton & Cates in Madison, WI, alleged specifically that the school “resented his outspokenness on issues of public concern” and exhibited “a bias” against having a man coach the University of Wisconsin women’s track and cross country programs.
The 64-year-old plaintiff is seeking compensatory damages, reinstatement, injunctive relief, costs and attorney’s fees.
According to the complaint, Tegen was vocal about the following:
• “Opposing discrimination on the basis of gender with respect to budget appropriation;
• “Openly and notoriously criticizing the administration for engaging in contractual relationships to purchase equipment (from Reebok), which he perceived to be of poor quality and not suited for the women’s track and field team;
• “Opposing administrative decisions with respect to the selection of coaches within the athletic department on the basis of gender;
• “Opposing administrative interference with respect to his decision making authority whenever he issued disciplinary notices to female assistant coaches; and
• “Opposing the decision to terminate /not renew his employment contract on the basis of age and retaliation for speaking out on matters of public concern including issues related to gender discrimination.”
For this, the university retaliated against him, which included “unjustified negative performance reviews,” a “coerced” resignation and the development of a plan to replace him with a “younger and less qualified individual.”
Tegen coached track and cross country at the school for nearly 30 years. His teams of won national and conference championships, though in recent years his success has waned.
However, his overall record is something his attorneys hope to leverage, especially when he is compared to females and younger males.
“He is a person who is well recognized and has a well established reputation in his field,” Arellano told Sports Litigation Alert. “The reasons for his non-renewal can easily become suspect when you compare the problems other departments (sports) are having at UW, some of which include coaches that are female and/or younger males.”


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