Interesting case out of Virginia Commonwealth University. James Finley has been the coach there for eight seasons and after having his best year ever, with his team finishing 25-6 and making it to the Atlantic 10 semifinals, he was told his contract would not be renewed. Finley believes he was fired because he is gay.
The university's statement reads as follows:
"Our program needs a different direction and different leadership to attain our goals of achieving at an elite level nationally," VCU Director of Athletics Ed McLaughlin said. "I thank Coach Finley and his staff for their service to VCU Athletics and I wish them all the best in their future endeavors."
Finley's record over eight years at VCU is 151-116 and he took the team to the conference championship match four times in that span. Though it will be tough for the school to argue that he was fired due to performance, and that doesn't seem to be what they're arguing here, it may be even tougher to prove that they fired him due to his sexual orientation.
Finley says the problems began when Ed McLaughlin was hired as the school's new Athletic Director back in August. He says McLaughlin gave him the cold shoulder from the start, never speaking with him or getting to know him as he did the other coaches at the school. He claims that at one event, McLaughlin would leave every time he tried to enter the conversation.
When Finley's distraught players went to talk to McLaughlin, they claim he said that he wanted someone who would "represent the university well" which does sound a little like he was speaking in code. But still, Finley has a tough road in front of him as these cases tend to be very difficult to prove.
As of now, the case is in the hands of university officials, but Finley says he will consider taking legal action if it is not properly dealt with at that level.
We'll keep an eye on this one.