The athletics department at Southern Illinois University could soon be under federal scrutiny. It involves alleged interactions between the athletics director and a former assistant women's golf coach.
The allegations claim gender discrimination and a hostile work environment in the athletic department. Something the former coach's attorney says SIU did not take seriously, so now they're asking for another set of eyes.
Attorney Shari Rhode thumbs through the complaints recently filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the U.S. Department of Education for Civil Rights. In the paper work she alleges her client, Samantha Sambursky the former SIU women's assistant golf coach, was wrongly discounted for the job of head coach by Athletic Director Mario Moccia.
"Because she has a small child and said well she couldn't, she couldn't, just on a plane and recruit so she couldn't be a serious candidate," Rhode said.
Last spring Rhode says they brought the allegations to SIU's administration. The university spent thousands of dollars on an outside investigator.
SIU Spokesman Rod Sievers says a report was prepared for the chancellor and she took no disciplinary action. But that's where Rhode says there's a problem.
"What there should have been was reeducation acknowledgment at the very least that there needed to be more education and everybody should have a fair opportunity and these kinds of comments were unacceptable," Rhode said.
Sievers would not comment on the specifics of the investigator's report. He adds it's standard for any type of charges that come along that the university protects the privacy of both parties involved.
But Rhode says they filed with the federal agencies not only on behalf of Sambursky, but also female student athletes.
"Speaking on behalf of the environment that they're subjected to, sort of being second class citizens the women athletes, because the athletic director doesn't think that women's sports or women administrators should have the same respect and opportunities as the male administrators," Rhode said.
Meanwhile, Moccia told Heartland News, "The University had made their comments on the findings and I myself am just going to let these comments stand."
It now comes down to a waiting game. Rhode says they just want the federal agencies opinion. She adds once they receive those, they'll decide how to move forward.
In a recent SIU Athletics blog, Saluki Track & Field coach Connie Price-Smith commented on allegations against Moccia. Price-Smith said she disagrees with even the suggestion that women don't have the full respect of the administration within Saluki Athletics.
Opinions from the federal agencies could take several weeks.
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