UW Coach Awaits Response to Gender Discrimination Complaint

Jun 5, 2004

The former softball coach at the University of Washington has sued the school for sex discrimination under federal and state statutes, violation of due process and liberty rights, wrongful discharge and breach of contract.
Teresa Wilson was relieved of her coaching duties and re-assigned last December after she allegedly knew or should have known that the team’s trainer was prescribing and dispensing drugs to student-athletes in violation of the law. In fact a recent internal reported revealed that Wilson’s players were “overmedicated” on pain-killers and muscle relaxants.
Wilson, who is represented by Minneapolis Attorney Rayla Allison, fired back in April, claiming that her “personal and professional reputation has been severely damaged.” Wilson named the University of Washington, interim UW President Lee Huntsman and Norm Arkans, the university’s president and special assistant to the president, as defendants.
Allison, who also teaches sports law at Minnesota State University, told Sports Litigation Alert that Wilson had been a victim of gender discrimination for much of her career at UW and that she expected, through discovery, to establish a pattern of such behavior in other areas of the athletic department.
Wilson may have been more attuned to such discrimination, given that she had “expressed concern” three years ago “to the university that female student-athletes on the UW softball team were not receiving adequate medical and athletic training care, and asked that a new athletic trainer be assigned to the team.” Ironically, that criticism may have led to the university assigning Dr. William Scheyer to address the coach’s concerns.
Last fall, the university began an internal investigation of Scheyer for “overmedicating” players on pain-killers and muscle relaxants. The university ultimately claimed Wilson should have been aware of Scheyer’s activities.
In her complaint, Wilson alleges that UW investigators asked “leading and defaming questions of players and personnel interviewed (during the investigation) that implied unsupported wrongdoing by Wilson.” However, the “internal investigation has yet to provide any evidence of involvement of Wilson or that she had any knowledge of the doctor’s alleged illegal activities.”
Allison believes Wilson’s gender has been a factor in her treatment.
“Not only is Coach Wilson’s dismissal unjustifiable and illegal, it is completely inconsistent with any disciplinary actions taken against any male coaches in the athletic department. She did nothing wrong,” said Allison. “Furthermore, no other sports programs at UW were investigated for any questionable practices of medical care provided by Dr. Scheyer, even though he attended other teams over the years, including men’s basketball and football.”
Initially, Allison sent a settlement request to the university that sought Wilson’s reinstatement. When there was no response, the attorney sent a second letter seeking a monetary settlement on behalf of her client of $425,000. That, too, was not answered.
“We have tried to settle every step along the way,” Allison told SLA.
Allison is being assisted by the Minneapolis law firm of Lindquist and Venum.


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