University of South Florida Seeks to Dismiss Bias SuitsTAMPA, Fla.
T he University of South Florida filed joint motions last month to dismiss all 12 lawsuits stemming from alleged racial discrimination on the women’s basketball team.
The motions were filed on behalf of all plaintiffs and defendants, except Jerry Ann Winters, who was fired as the head coach of USF’s women’s basketball team in December 2000 (see Black Issues, Jan. 4, 2001).
The motions seek the court’s approval to dismiss all the cases as a result of a pending settlement. The cases will not officially be settled until the court grants the motion, but USF officials said they expect that to take place soon.
The final settlement amount, including all attorney’s fees and costs, is nearly $300,000.
“This action allows us to bring this difficult matter to a close,” says USF President Judy Genshaft. “We believe the cost to defend ourselves in court — both the financial costs as well as the emotional toll of this stressful controversy — would be far greater than the costs of settlement.”
Dione Smith, a basketball player, sued the university, Winters and former athletic director Paul Griffin two years ago. Eleven other players and a former coach had also filed $10 million in claims accusing Winters of segregating and discriminating against Black players.
The lawsuit alleged USF covered up evidence that Winters favored White players, segregated Blacks during recruit visits, meals and in road-trip rooming assignments and reduced the number of Blacks on the team.
Winters, who is White, was fired after university officials said she retaliated against Smith by kicking her off the team after Smith had complained. Winters had maintained she was not racist and denied allegations that she segregated and demeaned Blacks on her team.
Winters has taken her case to the 2nd District Court of Appeal, which can force USF to rehire her.
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