Recently fired coach sues Hawaii

Updated: April 13, 2009, 10:40 PM ET
Associated Press

HONOLULU -- Recently fired Hawaii women's basketball coach Jim Bolla filed a wrongful termination lawsuit Monday, alleging he was ousted in retaliation for complaining that female athletes were being discriminated against.

Named in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court were the University of Hawaii's Board of Regents, president David McClain, chancellor Virginia Hinshaw, athletic director Jim Donovan and assistant athletic director Carl Clapp. The university had no comment.

Bolla, who came to Hawaii in 2004, was fired a week ago amid an investigation into allegations he kicked one of his players. He alleges his First Amendment rights were violated when the school retaliated against him for complaining about Title IX violations at the university and his advocacy for equal athletic opportunities for female basketball players.

The lawsuit claims Bolla spoke to Donovan in March 2008 about the women's team not receiving the same staffing and resources that the men's team received, including a $1 million difference in funding.

"The disparities between the men's basketball program and women's basketball program in terms of funding, available coaches, support staff and other matters remained consistently unequal for coach Bolla's tenure at UH despite his complaints and efforts to obtain reasonable parity," the lawsuit said.

Bolla claims that shortly after his discussion with Donovan, he was given notice of complaints against him, some of which were three or more years old. School officials also leaked confidential personnel information about Bolla to a columnist for The Honolulu Advertiser, the lawsuit said.

The suit noted that Bolla's personnel file had contained no negative documentation before the March 2008 discussion. It also pointed to the fact that he was given a four-year extension in 2007.

The 57-year-old Bolla is seeking reinstatement, back pay, monetary relief and other damages.

Bolla had been on paid leave since Feb. 13. He missed the final nine games of the season, and the Rainbow Wahine finished 8-23, a school record for losses in a season.

The Rainbow Wahine were 64-80 with no postseason appearances during Bolla's five-year run. Bolla had two years remaining on his contract at about $120,000 a season.

He is the winningest coach in UNLV history, compiling a 300-120 record in 14 seasons from 1982-96 and winning Big West coach of the year three times. He led the Lady Rebels to seven regular-season conference titles and 11 postseason appearances, seven in the NCAA tournament.


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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