A former Merrimack College assistant athletic director is the center of an investigation in Virginia, accused of discriminating against two gay athletic employees.
Ed McLaughlin, who was assistant athletic director at Merrimack from 1997 to 2000, did not renew the contract for Virginia Commonwealth University’s women’s volleyball coach James Finley, a coach whose teams consistently have ranked among the top in the nation. This year, the volleyball team went 25-6 this season, and it has reached the conference championship match in four out the last seven years.
“My determination is it was due to my sexual orientation,” said Finley, who is gay and lives with his husband John and their three sons in Virginia.
About two months ago, McLaughlin stripped Patricia Stauffer, the senior women’s administrator who also is gay, of her title without explanation, two university employees said.
McLaughlin was hired at VCU July 24, according to the university.
Virginia Commonwealth University issued a brief statement yesterday. “Personnel actions are confidential. We adhere to federal and state laws and regulations that protect the privacy of our employees and the conditions of their employment,” said Pamela Lepley, a spokeswoman for VCU. “The employment action was taken in compliance with appropriate VCU employment practices and policies. VCU and its athletic director, Ed McLaughlin, are fully committed to the core value of diversity – as reflected in the university’s diversity statement and strategic plan. As the (Commonwealth of Virginia)’s most diverse university, we practice the spirit of that policy statement every day.”
A voice message left at McLaughlin’s university phone number seeking comment was not returned yesterday. But VCU released a statement attributed to McLaughlin: “A core value of Virginia Commonwealth University – and one that I personally share – is diversity,” he said. “I came to VCU because of how the university embraces diversity and inclusive excellence and fosters a community where differences are valued and respected. It is unfortunate that Mr. Finley feels the decision not to renew his contract was based on anything other than previously stated concerns about the volleyball program. As I said earlier this month, the VCU volleyball program needs new leadership if it is to achieve athletic and academic success at an elite level nationally. I am confident about the path ahead and the upcoming search for a new head coach.”