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University, Coach Deny Discriminating Against Mormon Player

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho ― Idaho State University’s former assistant tennis coach and the university have denied allegations made in a lawsuit in which a former tennis player says he was discriminated against because of his Mormon faith.

The Post Register reports that former coach Nate Gross has been accused of harassing Orin Duffin, who played on the team during the 2014-15 season, because of his membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In the lawsuit filed in May, Duffin said he was harassed while playing for the men’s tennis team.

ISU’s Office of Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action and Diversity investigated Duffin’s allegations of religious harassment last year. It found corroboration that assistant coach Nate Gross and some team members sent women to Duffin’s hotel room while the team was in Las Vegas.

Gross filed a response to the lawsuit saying he did not pick on Duffin because of his faith; he was hard on the player for being late for practice or performing poorly in drills.

According to the response, Gross acknowledged he “stupidly and unfairly and insensitively” brought attention to Orin’s faith by arranging for two women to knock on Duffin’s hotel door in Las Vegas.

Gross claims Duffin’s lawsuit is motivated by his dissatisfaction with the decision to pull him out of a tennis tournament because he had an injured arm that left him unable to serve overhand.

ISU filed a separate response denying most of Duffin’s allegations and claiming the lawsuit is invalid. The response lists 13 possible defenses, including that Duffin’s suit was filed too late and that ISU has qualified immunity from being sued.

Both sides are set to meet by telephone for a scheduling conference early next month.

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