If you quit your job or your contract isn’t renewed, is that being “forced out”? I see the payday coming, at the expense of the taxpayer….all because of political correctness.

3 former Duluth coaches file discrimination lawsuit
Openly gay women were forced out, lawsuit claims.


Three former coaches at the University of Minnesota-Duluth filed a lawsuit Monday morning in U.S. District Court against the U of M Board of Regents alleging seven counts of discrimination.

Shannon Miller, Jen Banford and Annette Wiles — former Bulldogs women’s hockey, softball and women’s basketball head coaches, respectively — filed the joint lawsuit, claiming gender, sexual orientation, national origin and age discrimination by UMD administrators resulted in the end of their coaching careers at the university.

The lawsuit notes that Miller, Banford and Wiles are all openly gay, and that openness played a role in their departures. Miller and Banford were told in Dec. 2014 that their contracts would not be renewed in June. The lawsuit claims Wiles was “forced” to resign on June 1 “due to the hostile and discriminatory environment created by the University.”

The coaches have scheduled a Monday afternoon news conference to discuss their legal action. This is a developing story. The Star Tribune has yet to receive comment from UMD administrators on Monday. Last week, when the coaches announced the scheduling of Monday’s news conference, UMD released a statement to media. It read: “We are aware that there is a press conference on Monday and are not in a position to comment about what the individuals or their lawyers will discuss there. We have fully cooperated with an internal review of the complaints raised, and dispute the broad claims of discrimination.’’

A statement from Chancellor Lendley C. Black was also included in UMD’s release last week: “We are committed to fostering a campus climate that is welcoming to all individuals. I support the leadership, direction and positive momentum of UMD Bulldog athletics.’’

The lawsuit claims all three coaches were subject to discrimination in various forms from university athletic director Josh Berlo, hired in 2013. Among the claims:

• Berlo twice asked Miller to retire or resign in 2014, before notifying the coach her contract would not be renewed.

• Banford was told of the nonrenewal at the same time as Miller. Berlo later offered her a chance to stay at Duluth in her position as softball coach but for a lower salary.

• Under Berlo, Wiles was subjected to “a pattern of disrespect, exclusion, and lack of civility in their interactions,” the lawsuit claims.

The coaches are suing the Board of Regents because that 12-person group “is the governing body of the University of Minnesota — including without limitation the governing body for the University of Minnesota-Duluth,” the lawsuit reads.

Miller won five NCAA championships with Duluth and appeared in 11 Frozen Fours. Before coming to Duluth, Miller was a player and then coach on the Canadian national team. The lawsuit calls her “the most successful women’s hockey coach in NCAA history.”

In addition to coaching softball, Banford was the director of operations for the hockey team. Banford was conference coach of the year in 2013.

The Bulldogs qualified for the postseason the past five seasons under Wiles. In her seven seasons in Duluth, Wiles went 109-86.

Leave a Reply