Former Jackson State Coach Suing Program

The following article was written by Spencer Wingate.

Former Woman’s Basketball Coach Denise Taylor-Travis is suing Jackson State University for unlawfully violating the contract they agreed to on July 1, 2010. The contract stipulated Taylor would receive $91,000 per year plus incentives for a period of three years. Taylor claims her contract and privacy were violated. She maintains her civil rights were disregarded as she was sexually discriminated.

In her suit, Taylor references how the male coaches were treated differently and attempted to intimidate her. She received less recruiting resources and a lower budget then her male co-workers. In 2011, Taylor wanted to attend the NCAA Woman’s Basketball Association Conference.  She requested to go in January and was supposed to be notified in February of the verdict. JSU did not tell her until late March that she would not be going. Taylor requested a meeting with JSU Senior Woman Administrator Adrienne Sweeny on March 29, 2011. In the meeting, Taylor voiced how she was being unfairly treated. The next day, Taylor met with Interim JSU Athletic Director Robert Walker stating her case again. Walker contacted JSU President Carolyn Myers via email about the unjust treatment of Taylor. Myers’ email response mentioned nothing about the mistreatment. Additionally, Myers never evaluated Taylor’s program like she had the men’s basketball and football teams. Taylor believes this showed a lack of professionalism and equality.

Myers dispatched Ella Holmes to audit the woman’s basketball program. It is claimed that the decision lacked no purpose and was simply an act of retaliation against Taylor. The audit resulted in Taylor receiving a letter on April 8, 2011 requesting her administrative leave. Three days later, she was accused of misconduct.  Taylor requested documentation supporting the claim. It was not until May 13, 2011 that she received a summary of the allegations. They consisted of harassment, misappropriation of funds, and university policy violations.  Later that day, Taylor was told she had been terminated. Taylor stated the allegations were preposterous and she was wrongfully terminated.

In June, Taylor’s personal regards were improperly released to the Clarion Ledger. University policy and the Mississippi Public Records Act clearly state this is unlawful. Taylor’s contract allowed her to request an arbitration hearing to appeal her termination. A grievance committee review unjustly took the place of her arbitration hearing on August 30, 2011. The committee determined the university had sufficient grounds for termination. Taylor decided to sue because of what she says are the heinous and unwarranted allegations by JSU. She seeks compensation for loss earnings and emotional pain. Taylor is hoping her lawsuit will result in reinstatement and JSU to admit they violated numerous university rules

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