Ex-UMD coaches, athletes file gender discrimination complaint against school

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Three former coaches and five current or former student-athletes have filed a Title IX complaint this week against the University of Minnesota, Duluth.

Former Bulldogs women's hockey coach Shannon Miller, former softball coach Jennifer Banford and former women's basketball coach Annette Wiles submitted the filing to the federal Department of Education Office of Civil Rights this week, along with the female athletes.

The complaint lists 54 allegations of gender discrimination due to disparities in funding for travel, meals, recruiting, equipment and scholarships between the men's and women's athletic teams.

All three of the coaches, who are openly gay, filed a lawsuit against the University of Minnesota Board of Regents in U.S. District Court back in September. The lawsuit claims discrimination based on age, gender and sexual orientation.

According to the Star Tribune, the suit says the school created a hostile work environment, violated equal pay laws and Title IX and retaliated against the women. The lawsuit is asking for back pay, future pay and damages for emotional distress.

"The claim is that UMD is in many ways denying equal athletic opportunities to female students when compared to males," said Miller's attorney, Dan Siegel to the Duluth News Tribune. He added the dismissal of the female coaches last year was only a small part of it.

According to the complaint, the "disparities in benefits and services are numerous, systemic and affect all female athletes at UMD."

The News Tribune points to one of the examples in the complaint: The UMD men's hockey team was given a budget of $10,000 for snacks to eat before and after practices last year, while the women's hockey team received $2,000.

While anyone can file a complaint, the Office of Civil Rights will decide whether or not it will investigate the issue. That determination has not been made, and there is no guideline for how long it might be before a decision is made.

In September, UMD Chancellor Lendley C. Black denied the school discriminated and was certain UMD would succeed in refuting the claims.

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