VCU investigation concludes gay volleyball coach complaint unfounded

Posted at 5:15 PM, Dec 20, 2012

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)-- Virginia Commonwealth University has released a statement following the investigation of James Finely’s claims that discrimination was the reason his contract was not renewed by the university.

Finley came forward at the end of November and said that despite finishing the 2012 season with the best winning percentage ever and the highest national ranking his contract was not renewed and he believed that it was because he is gay.

FInley was informed on November 19 by the university’s new athletic director, Ed McLaughlin, that the department wanted the team to “go in a new direction.”

The report stated that the Equal Employment Opportunity determined that Finley’s discrimination complaint was unfounded and that the employment action was taken in compliance with VCU employment practices and policies.

Finley spoke with CBS 6 and declined to release the investigation report, which he has a copy of and has read.“I’m not surprised,” he told CBS-6 .

“This is what I expected.”  He said, “We’re weighing all of our options” which includes the possibility of a lawsuit. He will be conferring with the ACLU on Friday and may issue a further statement.

Michael Rao called the investigation “exhaustive” and said that the decision was made in accordance with VCU policies and not as the result of “any discriminatory action by our athletic director.”

Finley had alleged that the new AD, Ed McLaughlin, didn’t talk with him or come to his matches. Finley said the little contact he had with McLaughlin troubled him enough to tell his husband that his new boss had a problem with him.

“I continue to have confidence in the process that produced the report and in Ed McLaughlin as VCU’s athletic director,” Rao said.

“I fully upport VCU’s commitment to diversity, equal opportunity and nondiscrimination. Diversity and inclusiveness are core values for me, too, and VCU’s diverse environment was one of the reasons my family and I chose to come here,” McLaughlin said, in a release. 

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Finley turned around a program that had full of losses. His eight-year record: 151 wins and 116 losses. While he had some losing seasons recently, the just-finished season was the team’s best ever.

Adding fuel to the fire was that shortly after Finley was let go, Patricia Stauffer, an openly lesbian associate athletic director,  losing one of her titles, Senior Woman Administrator, since McLaughlin’s arrival.

VCU said that their investigation included "fact-finding interviews with 16 individuals and a review of applicable personnel records." 

However, the details of the report cannot be released publicly by VCU without the consent of the complainant because they include confidential personnel information.

 Read VCU's full release here. Read McLoughlin's statement here.