FGCU Coach’s Appeal Denied, Federal Suit is Still in Play

Apr 11, 2008

By Mary Yarrison
Florida Gulf Coast University’s women’s volleyball program has begun to search for a new head coach, after the official termination of 2007 Atlantic Sun Conference coach of the year, Jaye Flood, took effect March 14.
Flood’s termination ends a series of appeals and public statements that began October 15, 2007, when she was put on paid leave for grabbing the shirt of a player during practice. That suspension was the last in a long string of alleged attempts by the administration to terminate her employment, in what she calls a retaliatory witch hunt to fire her.
The drama began in February 2007, when Athletic Director Carl McAloose and Associate Athletic Director Kathy Peterson reportedly attempted to have Flood fired but found themselves unable to show cause. They were told that Flood could not be fired without at least receiving a negative job performance evaluation. So in July 2007, they provided her with such, according to the Naples Daily News. Flood had previously supported another former coach’s sexual discrimination claim against the university. She claimed that her participation in that case was the reason for the administration’s alleged vendetta against her.
After receiving her poor evaluation, Flood filed a complaint within the university, claiming gender discrimination. The law firm Littler Mendelson was hired by FGCU to investigate the claim. They found no such misconduct, but by the time their report was released, Flood found herself in hot water for something entirely separate—an allegedly inappropriate relationship with a student manager.
Flood reportedly met the former soccer player at a bar in April, where she was introduced by mutual friends. She was initially unaware that the girl was an FGCU student, but after learning that she was a business major interested in volunteering with a sports team, Flood offered her a position as a volleyball manager. She turned out to be a sub-standard manager, and Flood limited her responsibilities as a result, particularly by keeping her from traveling with the team, which upset the student.
When asked by AAD Peterson why she was being left home, the student implied that Flood’s desire for and her refusal of a sexual relationship had caused awkwardness leading to the relegation of her responsibilities. This accusation caused Peterson to be concerned, and when, in October, Flood was seen grabbing a player’s shirt during practice, she was suspended for what Peterson considered to be the final straw. Her suspension and ultimate termination were for the purpose of “student welfare,” according to the university, and her appeal for reinstatement was officially denied in late February.
She has also filed a federal lawsuit, claiming defamation and retaliation—i.e. that she was fired because she filed a gender discrimination claim. The suit, filed January 18 by Public Justice, a Washington, D.C.-based group that calls itself “America’s public interest law firm,” is pending.
Public Justice Foundation Board Member Linda Correia of Webster, Fredrickson, Henrichsen, Correia & Puth, P.L.L.C. (WFHCP) in Washington, D.C, is Public Justice’s lead counsel in this case. Public Justice Staff Attorney Adele Kimmel and Goldberg, Waters & Krauss Fellow Amy Radon are co-counsel, as is Heather Collins of WFHCP’s Jacksonville, Florida office.
Flood will not be reinstated at FGCU, and the athletic department has posted the opening and begun the search to fill a position McAloose feels will pique “a great deal of interest.” Flood’s former assistant, Carrie Lundy, is handling the team while the search is conducted. No timetable has been set for the hiring of a replacement.
To read the complaint in the case, visit: http://www.publicjustice.net/briefs/Flood_Complaint_011808.pdf


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