Fired for the most horrible of crimes.

At a university in Virginia, a volleyball coach is being fired for the crime of being gay.

Just three days before Thanksgiving, one of the most loved and most successful coaches at Virginia Commonwealth University was fired — my friend Coach James Finley. After delivering a 25-6 winning season and graduating every one of his seniors, Coach Finley was unceremoniously shown the door — for no reason other than being unashamedly who he is…a gay man.

When letting the team know about the news, the Athletic Director who fired Coach Finley said that he wanted to find someone who “better represented VCU.” I have trouble believing that VCU could find a better representative than Coach Finley — a kind and generous man, and an excellent volleyball coach who turned a shambles of a team into the most successful volleyball program in 20 years at VCU.

There is a petition to VCU’s president requesting him to re-think the decision.  I signed it, not knowing where James Finley’s heart lies in the matter.  Perhaps Finley has a home there in Richmond which, after 20+ years, he does not wish to leave.  Perhaps he feels an obligation to be there having promised a recruiting class that he would be.

However, if neither of those are the case, with his talent he could easily find a job at another school where he won’t have to always be worrying if the ancient ideas twisting his athletic directors brain will affect hm down the road.  It sounds to me like he’s too good for the school

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Jaime Wise

    That’s horrible! I’m glad to see how well the petition is going, though.

  • MM

    I’ve spent some time on VCU’s Richmond campus and it seemed like a very eclectic and progressive place, particularly given the strength of their arts programs. I guess that doesn’t extend to the administration…

  • Katherine Lorraine, Chaton de la Mort

    By the way, for those curious. In 2010, when Governor Ultrasound was elected, one of his first acts along with AG Troglodyte was to dismantle employee protections against being fired for being LGBT. He said the following:

    It shall be the policy of the office of the Governor to ensure equal opportunity in the workplace, encourage excellence by rewarding achievement based on merit, and prohibit discrimination for any reason. Hiring, promotion, discipline and termination of employees shall be based on qualifications, performance and results.

    • Lyfa

      You know how it goes, give nice speeches and then legislate the exact opposite…

      • Katherine Lorraine, Chaton de la Mort

        That’s Governor Ultrasound for you.

  • Stogoe

    VA’s AG Kook-inelli also just manipulated the state republican party into nominating him for Governor in a smoke-filled backroom, rather than having a primary election where he would have to run against an only-mostly-despicable ‘moderate’ Republican and where he was only probably guaranteed the win. Can’t have people vote on that sort of thing, no siree.

    • Katherine Lorraine, Chaton de la Mort

      I hate AG Troglodyte. Between him and Governor Ultrasound, it’s a flat out sprint to see how quickly they can drag Virginia back into the Middle Ages. And I’m stuck here for work reasons.

  • Brad1990

    I’m not from America and am unfamiliar with your anti-discrimination laws, but surely, surely this must be illegal? By all that’s good in the world, please tell me this is illegal?

    • eric

      If the school says they fired him for being gay, its probably illegal. Depending on the type of employment contract he has, it may be perfectly legal for them if they just keep mum about the reason.

      Some places have ‘at-will’ contracts. Meaning they can fire employees at any time without giving a reason. Such contracts are legal, but they do not trump EEO laws. The combination makes for the very wierd situation where not giving a reason for firing someone is legal, but giving a reason may make the firing illegal if that reason violates EEO laws.