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.

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Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle7 years ago

I don't think Howe "resigned." She was fired. Some things are just too obvious to reach any other conclusion. I feel very badly for the girls on the team, because they obviously value their coach. Were I Howe, I would file a lawsuit.

Petra Luna
Petra Luna7 years ago

I believe she was told to quit due to her situation. That way, they didn't have to blame her in front of the students who loves her so much, but didn't have to take the blame either. How else would you explain it?

Amanda M.
Amanda M7 years ago

Belmont fired her, they're just trying to hide it so that they don't get penalized! First they deny recognition to Bridge Builders, now the soccer coach "disappears" after announcing that she and her partner are expecting their first child! Something smells, and it's not yesterday's garbage! They should just ADMIT they fired her...after all, isn't there a commandment against lying? (Yes, I know it's actually saying "thou shalt bear no false witness," but it means the same damn thing!) I hope that the uproar over this makes them change their minds or at least pay her compensation for their bigotry! Close-minded bigots need to be called out for the scum they are!

And to Ms. Howe and your partner: Congratulations on your new baby! I hope he or she has a long and happy life free from this kind of close-minded bigotry and bullying in the name of the Judeo-Christian god! Blessings on you all!

Marilyn L.
Marilyn L7 years ago

I agree Laura, you only really have 4 choice, however, no a days there is a 5th.

Quitely leave and we will give you a financial package of some sort. I understand if she did this, but I hope not and I hope she files suit.

Robert Tedders
Robert T7 years ago


Laura S.
Laura S7 years ago

There are only four reasons that a person leaves a job:

1. They resign.
2. They are fired.
3. They retire.
4. They die.

If she wasn't fired, she didn't resign and she's clearly not dead, I hope she's getting a really big pension check. Otherwise, the university should own up to the truth. And if the truth hurts, then maybe they should rethink their actions.

Good luck to Ms Howe, and congratulations to her and her partner on the news of their future parenthood.

ruth a.
ruth a7 years ago

Thank you, ewoud k., for this comment: "Doesn't the first amendment cover this, in fact? Isn't this a form of opinion which has to be protected?"

It seems worth pursuing....

K s Goh
KS Goh7 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Kaye S.
Rev. Dr. Kaye S7 years ago

Noted, thanks.

Philippa P.
Philippa P7 years ago

This was no coincidence.