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Judge Dismisses Discrimination Claims By Former UW Softball Coach

SEATTLE - A federal judge has dismissed former Washington
softball coach Teresa Wilson's claims of gender discrimination,
saying the university had good reason to fire her following a
prescription drug scandal involving the team.


"UW had reason to be concerned that plaintiff had not exercised
good judgment in protecting athletes on the softball team, and
might exercise poor judgment in the future," U.S. District Judge
James Robart wrote.


Wilson built the Huskies into a national power during her 12
years as coach, but she was "reassigned" for the remainder of her
contract in December 2003 after it became clear that the team
doctor, William Scheyer, had been giving players prescription
narcotics, sedatives and tranquilizers willy-nilly. Scheyer pleaded
guilty to federal charges early this year and is to be sentenced in
May.


Both Scheyer and several players told UW investigators that
Wilson, who now coaches at Texas Tech, knew full well of the
doctor's activities.


Wilson vehemently denied that and filed a lawsuit in U.S.
District Court seeking damages for discrimination, retaliation,
wrongful termination, emotional distress and breach of contract.
She subsequently withdrew her retaliation claim, and the judge
threw out her discrimination claims Friday. Given the judge's
order, it seemed unlikely Wilson's other claims would succeed,
university lawyer Mike Madden said Tuesday.


"There are claims remaining that we don't believe are
substantial," Madden said. "It's satisfying the court accepted
the facts as to why she was let go."


Wilson's lawyer, Rayla Allison of Minneapolis, did not
immediately return a call seeking comment.


The drug scandal was among several recent problems for the
Washington athletic department. Football coach Rick Neuheisel was
fired after he gambled on the NCAA basketball tournament, a
dismissal he, too, contested in court, and athletic director
Barbara Hedges took early retirement last year. The university
agreed to pay Neuheisel $4.5 million to settle his claim this month.


Wilson, who insisted she did not know of the improper drug use,
based her gender discrimination claim on the fact that one of her
assistant coaches, Scott Centala, was in a better position to know
about the scandal because he worked more closely with the players
in the training room. And yet, instead of firing him, the
university promoted him to co-head coach in Wilson's absence.


Wilson's reassignment for the university was to write a report
about potential changes in softball rules - which she did. She
continued to receive her full salary of roughly $90,000 a year
until her contract ran out in June 2004.


The university claimed it promoted Centala - along with
assistant coach Steve Dailey, who knew nothing about the scandal -
because he was less culpable than Wilson. The university also said
that because the softball season was going to start so soon, it was
important to elevate someone who was familiar with the program. The
judge found those reasons valid.


After the 2004 season, Heather Tarr was hired as head coach.

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