Josephine (Jo) R. Potuto’s credentials are impeccable.
A University of Nebraska law professor, she is the past chair of the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions, served on the NCAA Division I Management Council, and is past president of the 1A FAR (Faculty Athletic Representatives at Division I FBS universities).
So when word surfaced last month that she had sued Chancellor Ronnie Green, claiming he retaliated against her after she asked about the university’s efforts to address a gender pay disparity, it got attention.
“For decades, (UNL) has paid female professors substantially less than their male counterparts,” according to Potuto’s complaint. “Professor Potuto is no exception to this unlawful employment practice.”
Potuto contends that she makes substantially less than two male colleagues. Specifically, publicly available salary information reveals Potuto’s annual earnings are $229,460, which is about $44,000 less than that of Robert Denicola, who has been on the faculty since 1976, and about $27,000 less than Martin Gardner, who gained employ at the university in 1977.
If the university is guilty of such practices, it would not be alone in the state. The Nebraska Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education published a report in 2015, revealing a gender pay gap across most of its colleges and university campuses.
In Potuto’s complaint, she alleges that Green and Donde Plowman, the former executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, directed the deans of UNL’s colleges to develop plans on how to address the gender pay disparities.
Potuto claims that when she asked Green for an update on the administration’s plan, she was notified that she would be replaced as its FAR.
Potuto, reportedly, pursued a resolution of the case through her Lincoln attorney Vince Powers. But the two sides could not reach an agreement, which led to her lawsuit filed in Lancaster County District Court.
UNL spokeswoman Deb Fiddelke told the media that her claims were “unfounded and without merit.
“The university is prepared to defend itself against those claims and is confident that it will ultimately prevail,” she said.
Potuto was featured in a 2017 interview in Sports Law Expert: https://sportslawexpert.com/2017/07/15/qa-with-a-sports-law-expert-jo-potuto/