by Doug Brown
Former University of Toledo softball coach Terrah Beyster filed suit against the school today in Toledo's federal court, alleging violations of Title IX, the federal educational anti-discrimination act. Beyster "resigned" nearly a year ago, but the suit alleges she was forced out and charged with insubordination after complaining to athletic department administrators about the disparities in funding and treatment of the Toledo softball and baseball programs. Beyster also highlights two former coaches and an administrator who were not fired for having relationships with students or subordinates.
Beyster was hired in 2009. The suit says she was "originally hesitant because of the program's poor reputation, low salaries, and meager budget," but a top athletic department administrator told her "she would have free reign over the program, and the budget and salaries would increase." It continues: "Almost immediately upon her start at the University, Coach Beyster recognized the glaring inequalities between the men's and women's athletic programs, generally, and the softball and baseball programs, specifically."
It says she was an active advocate for gender equality in the athletic department, "but the University rebuffed her efforts." She raised the following issues:
-A) She didn't have a multi-year contract, though male coaches did.
-B) She was one of the lowest paid coaches at the school and the lowest paid softball coach in the Mid-American conference.
-C) The baseball program had a long-term graduate assistant. Softball graduate assistants couldn't stay more than two years.
-D) The baseball program kept the money from when they rented out their fields. The softball program had to turn all rental revenues over to the Facilities Department, despite preparing the field themselves.
-E) Despite asking for a new bullpen backstop because it was a "safety hazard," they didn't get one. The school then built one for the baseball program shortly after.
-F) The team's outfield fencing and materials violated NCAA rules. The school didn't pair for renovations — instead, the program raised the money and paid for nearly all of the $103,000 costs.
-G) The field's dirt needed replacement dirt every two years. They supplied it for the baseball team, but not the softball team.
-H) The baseball program had its own locker room, while softball had to share it with the girl's soccer team, where male coaches would walk in.
-I) Male referees and umpires were assigned to use the women coaches' locker room, where the male officials "walked in on every female coach, and at least three female coaches were nude when a referee or umpire walked in."
After raising these concerns, the suit said she was retaliated against. A former associate athletic department called her "Coach Bitch," they refused to hire her preferred assistant coach and "threatened consequences if parents or players called or wrote letters" supporting the two, took money the softball team raised and used it on other sport, and athletic director Mike O'Brien refused to meet with with her.
On November 4, 2013, the school held a surprise disciplinary hearing and charged her with insubordination. "The University demanded she resign or be terminated, promising to make the resignation as pretty as possible." It was announced she "resigned" the next day.
The suit highlights three cases of male head coaches and administrators who "committed much more egregious offenses" without being fired:
-Former swimming coach Lars Jorgensen "had a long term romantic relationship with a payer. The University hired this player as an assistant coach and eventually promoted her to head coach, passing over top candidates for this position." This relationship has not been made public before. In 2013, Jorgensen took over as the head University of Kentucky swimming and diving coach. Liz Hinkleman took over for him at Toledo, her alma mater.
-She also brought up former Toledo track and cross country coach Kevin Hadsell, who had romantic relationships with runners and drove the team bus drunk, among other issues. For more information on that, read a Deadpsin's 2013 piece — "I'm Down For Drinks, Laughs, Sex": The Sexual Harassment Claims That Brought Down Toledo's Running Coach" — written by the author of this blog post.
-Also in there is former deputy athletic director Mike Karabin, who she says was arrested for drunk driving and was accused of having an affair and sexually harassing a subordinate.
Beyster is bringing suit for one count of "Unlawful Retaliation and Discrimination in Violation of Title IX of the Educational Amendment Act of 1972."
She's asking for "back pay and front pay," "compensatory damages," "punitive damages," her old job back, and costs associated with the lawsuit.
Read the suit here: