Was This Soccer Coach Forced to Resign For Coming Out?
Shortly after telling her college women’s soccer team that she and her partner were expecting a child, Coach Lisa Howe was suddenly no longer leading the team. The school claims she was neither fired, nor did she resign, but that Coach Howe most definitely no longer worked for them.
Her team members, however, believe that Howe was forced out of her job for her sexual orientation, and they are not at all happy with the decision.
Via the Belmont Vision:
Belmont women’s soccer head coach Lisa Howe was dismissed earlier this week, just days after she told team members that she and her same-sex partner would have a child.
Senior forward Erica Carter– who started for Howe her entire college career– said the team is shocked and angered by the coach’s firing.
As of early Thursday evening, the university had not released a statement that confirmed Howe’s dismissal. Earlier in the day, Carter said no one representing the university had met with team members to discuss the situation with them.
Carter and other players on the team held a members-only meeting after they learned through unofficial sources that the coach was removed from her position. Carter said they were unified in their stance against Howe’s firing.
“The general feeling on the team when everyone heard was like a wildfire spread of fury and anger,” she said. “We were all talking in groups and upset and outraged that they would take our coach away after all that she has done for the program and for us individually.”
“We all just felt that this was unfair, and it wasn’t done in the right way,” Carter said.
According to Carter, earlier today Howe said good-bye to her players in a tear-filled meeting. Carter told the Vision that Howe wrote “No Regrets” on the board in the locker room and apologized to her players because of the situation. She gave each player a Christmas gift because she wouldn’t be able to attend their party.
Howe, who came to Belmont in 2005, was still listed as head coach on the Athletics Department website Thursday afternoon. According to her bio on the site, “The program has not only soared on the field but continues to excel in the classroom under Howe’s leadership.” More than 30 players have earned Atlantic Sun All-Academic honors. Howe’s teams have posted a 52-48-16 record.
While there has been no word from the university on Howe’s dismissal, it follows a recent ruling by Belmont administration that denied recognition of Bridge Builders, an LGBT issues group, as an official student organization.
According to a statement from the University:
“Women’s soccer coach Lisa Howe has informed the university of her intent to conclude her employment with Belmont. This was a decision Coach Howe made. Belmont is so grateful for the work Coach Howe has done and her commitment to women’s soccer and Belmont athletics.”
However, the Belmont Vision notes this from a Friday statement:
Belmont University released a second statement late Friday afternoon regarding “the conclusion of Coach Lisa Howe’s employment at Belmont University.”
According to the statement, the university and Howe agree that she “did not ‘resign’ from her employment. Neither was she dismissed.”
The statement, released through Belmont communications director Greg Pillon, said the university wanted to address inaccuracies on the part of the media: “Both Coach Howe and the university wish to correct the errors and move forward without further media distraction.”
If she didn’t resign, and wasn’t fired, exactly what happened to the successful and popular coach, and why did it suddenly occur so quickly after her announcement?
Yet another stark reminder of why the country needs a law to ensure people cannot be fired simply because of their sexual orientation. Tennessee has no such state law.