Former Amherst Lacrosse Coach Alleges Racial Discrimination in Lawsuit Against the School

The former head coach of Amherst College's men's lacrosse team is suing the Massachusetts school, saying it racially discriminated against him, reports the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

Rashad Devoe, a Black man, says he was hired on a three-year contract to reform the team's culture after players chanted the N-word outside a Black teammate’s dorm room in March 2020. However, just a little over a year into his contract, Devoe was fired in June. According to the lawsuit, Devoe was fired not long after he reported a new incident of racism against Black players. 

“On May 14, 2021, Coach Devoe had lunch with a black lacrosse player, who confided in Coach Devoe that he and two black basketball players were told that they could not attend a lacrosse party because they would ‘take all the white women’ at the party,’” reads the lawsuit. Devoe says administrators pressured him to reveal the names of the athletes who had confided in him, but that they “would not or could not” ensure the college would protect him and the three Black players from “retaliation and continued discrimination.” When Devoe didn't release the names, he says he was fired "for refusing to participate in the investigation" — an act he called "false and a pretext for discrimination and retaliation.”

The lawsuit also points to an incident in October 2020 in which players and their parents posted threats and insults to Devoe after he reiterated an ongoing COVID-19 ban on team activities. At the time, the school told Devoe to ignore the threats, states the lawsuit. Meanwhile, some of players allege Devoe "verbally mistreated" them during the incident.

Other allegations in the lawsuit include civil rights violations, misrepresentations and fraud about Devoe’s employment contract and intentional infliction of emotional distress, reports The Gazette, which added that Devoe is suing for financial damages and reinstatement to the $90,000-per-year job.

Meanwhile, Amherst College says it "categorically refutes the allegations about the College’s decisions and motives in the matter."