ROUNDBALL DAILY

Connecticut basketball fans stirred by allegations against Jim Calhoun in sex discrimination suit against University of St. Joseph

By Joel Alderman

Basketball fans in Connecticut, and there are legions of them, as well as much of the general public in the state, are mostly in a state of shock as a result of the filing this week in a federal court of a lawsuit incriminating former UConn and now the Univ. of St. Joseph head coach Jim Calhoun, and his assistant Glen Miller with sexual discrimination.

The named defendant in the suit is the University of St. Joseph of West Hartford, for having violated Title IX which prohibits discrimination in educational programs on the basis of sex. “The university does not comment on pending litigation,” according to a spokesperson, who did say that it takes compliance with all matters relating to Title IX “very seriously.”

The suit was brought by Jaclyn Piscitelli, a former associate athletic director at USJ, who claims that Calhoun and Miller made disparaging comments about her, including Calhoun calling her “hot” and Miller telling her he’d “swipe left.”

Jim Calhoun, she alleges, turned the athletic department into a “male-dominated, hostile work environment” for females.

Glen Miller, who was an assistant to Calhoun at UConn for several years, then fired in 2017 by his successor, Kevin Ollie, then took on the same role at St. Joseph.

Bill Cardarelli, then athletic director at USJ, failed to take any action, says Piscitelli, when she brought her complaints against the 77-year old Calhoun, who has been a cancer survivor.

It should be noted that Jaclyn Piscitell was fired from her job this past June. Her lawyers say the move was retaliatory.

Among the Calhoun achievements

Calhoun won three national championships during his career at UConn, from 1986-2012, and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2005. At the ESPYs this past July he received a lifetime achievement award.

He came out of retirement last year to coach USJ. With a team consisting almost entirely of freshmen, the Blue Jays nearly reached the Division III NCAA Tournament, losing to Albertus Magnus in the conference championship game.

What this is all about

The lawsuit seeks economic damages, back pay, reinstatement of Piscitelli’s job, and attorney fees.

Among incidents claimed to have taken place, according to Piscitelli, are:

1) Cahoun supposedly knocked several single-serve “K-cups” onto the floor and stepped on them, then made Piscitelli clean them up the coffee grounds, stating that if he made such a mess at home, his wife would clean up after him.

2) Calhoun told her “you’re certainly hot.”

3) Calhoun turned the athletic department into a boy’s club where some men got preferential treatment, including extra interns and staff while she was given none. She claims she was forced to give up her office and share one with two other male employees.

4) Miller once told her “I’d swipe left, too,” referring to the dating app “Tinder,” in which users can swipe left to reject further contact with another user.

5) Though she reported the incidents of inappropriate and sexually harassing comments by Calhoun and Miller to Cardarelli, he did nothing about them.

Who must answer to the charges

As stated in the beginning, Calhoun and Miller are not named as defendants, but the university they work for and where the incidents allegedly happened must answer to charges against its employees.

So far no comment from Calhoun and don’t expect any while the case is pending, which could be a long time. It is just in the beginning stages.

We are left to wonder whether all this will affect his coaching future. Perhaps he should have quit while he was ahead, after he left UConn.

Something to think about

It may be just a coincidence, but Piscitelli is represented by the same law firm that is also representing Kevin Ollie, the former UConn men’s basketball coach, against the state university in a pending lawsuit for being wrongfully terminated, and in another Ollie case against Miller for slander.

While these messes are being all ironed out, can USJ at least play some basketball?

UPDATE

On Oct. 12th Jim Calhoun responded in a written statement which says in part:

“I was stunned and saddened to read the inflated and misleading headlines and the accusations directed at me this past Wednesday . . . I firmly and unequivocally, at no time, knowingly treated any woman unfairly because of her gender. In addition, let me be clear, I have never treated any woman inappropriately. . .”

“I’m not sure when asking a colleague if they would mind opening the door because my hands were full became discrimination . . . I use the word “hot” to describe the weather and the temperature of my morning coffee. And the only woman I openly compliment is my wife of 53 years and frankly, I call her beautiful because she is.”

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