VCU women’s volleyball coach James Finley led his team to a 25-6 record this season before losing in the semifinals of the Atlantic 10 Tournament. It was the best winning percentage the Rams put up in his eight-year tenure, and the next day he was fired. James Finley also happens to be gay, and he claims that was the reason for his termination.
The Associated Press reports that Finley has filed a complaint with VCU’s Office for Institutional Equity and will consider legal action if he is not reinstated. ESPN reports university spokesperson Pamela D. Lepley said an investigation is now underway, and will be completed within 45 days at which time the findings will be given to VCU president Michael Rao.
Finley claims he was told that his firing had nothing to do with his win-loss record (151-116), and he was even told by athletic director Ed McLaughlin and executive associate athletic director Jeff Cupps that they would help him find another job.
“I have felt completely not a part of the thing that I love,” Finley said. “For one person to do that, and to meet with me for the first time and to tell me I’m not a good representative of the university — somebody that doesn’t even know me because he’s never made an effort to get to know me — there’s no other conclusion that I can come to other than that he just doesn’t want a gay person representing his athletic department.”
A fifth-year senior on VCU’s volleyball team, Kristin Boyd, said the team wasn’t given much information either.
“(McLaughlin) wanted to go in a different direction and that he wanted better for us and he wanted somebody to better represent the school, so he wouldn’t really give anybody any more information other than that,” Boyd said. “Nobody really asked any questions because I think we were just overwhelmed and shocked and didn’t really know what to say.”
Finley said he wants his job back, and claims that VCU has a diverse and accepting culture where he and his partner have always felt welcome.