Gay volleyball coach says he has few options as VCU denies discrimination

James Finley LGBTQ Nation

RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia Commonwealth University has wrapped up its internal investigation into the termination of James Finley, the openly gay Women’s Volleyball Coach, and said their review found no misconduct or discrimination.

Finley was fired at the end of his “best season ever” with VCU women’s volleyball. He believes, because of the treatment he received throughout the season, and the demotion of the only other openly gay employee, that VCU’s new Athletic Director Ed McLaughlin fired him because of his sexual orientation.

James Finley

The university said in a statement that they expressed an “exhaustive investigation,” speaking with 16 individuals related to the case, and that “allegations of discrimination based on sexual orientation were unsubstantiated.”

Finley released a response shortly after and called “foul” on the investigation.

“I am dismayed by the poor quality of the investigative procedures followed by numerous factual inaccuracies included in the report…” said Finley.

While Finley said he would take time over the holidays to decide his next steps, Michael Hamar, an attorney in Norfolk, said Finley has little legal recourse.

Gov. Bob McDonnell removed protections for LGBT state employees in an executive order issued shortly after his entry to office, and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli went after state colleges for trying to amend their own discrimination policies to include sexual orientation.

“There is nothing in Virginia statutory law that grants him a shred of meaningful protection,” said Hamar, “… the only step left would be a federal trial.”

Finley, who coached the team for eight years, leading them to the A10 championships where they placed 3rd, said Ed McLaughlin, VCU’s newly hired athletic director, treated him strangely all season — avoiding him, not meeting his team, and not attending games.

Finley said he was told, “We want someone to better represent the school.”

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