Group protests coach during Penn State game

Updated: February 26, 2006, 3:58 PM ET
Associated Press

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- About three dozen people protested against Penn State coach Rene Portland and the university during the Lady Lions' game against Ohio State on Sunday.

The protesters, who had tickets, then came inside the Bryce Jordan Center and watched the contest without causing a disturbance. They laid out a rainbow flag on three rows of empty seats and then waved the large banner during halftime.

Former player Jennifer Harris has filed a federal lawsuit against Portland, accusing the coach of asking her to try to look more "feminine" and of maintaining a discriminatory policy against lesbians or those who she thought were lesbians.

Portland has denied the allegations. Several hundred fans responded by holding up "We Believe in Rene" signs that were distributed by Portland supporters before Sunday's game.

Protesters said they targeted the game in part because the Buckeyes were highly ranked and because it was the last home game this season for the Lady Lions.

"We want to show that Penn State doesn't follow their [nondiscrimination] policies," said student Cory Carter, 18, of Philadelphia.

The lawsuit filed by Harris, who is black, also alleged that Portland "harassed and targeted" other black players. Lawyers have said that Harris isn't a lesbian.

Penn State spokesman Tysen Kendig said the protesters were allowed to exercise their free speech rights "even though we may not agree with them."

"Unfortunately, some of those people who exercise that right don't recognize the equally important individual's right to due process," Kendig said.

Penn State has said it is conducting an internal investigation into the allegations.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press