In what to me seems astounding and certainly very disturbing it was announced earlier today that the University of Tennessee had settled for $2.48 million sex discrimination claims that arose principally from the response of its athletics department to sexual assault complaints against athletes, particularly football players. I say that the settlement is astounding, because there would be no liability against the University or its athletics department, in the usual case, for something done even a sexual assault committed by an athlete. To establish liability against the University it would be necessary to prove that it had established essentially a policy and/or procedure of condoning or ratifying sexual assaults by athletes. Condoning or ratifying meeting deliberately and intentionally looking the other way or reflexively rising in defense against a complaint and acting aggressively discredit and discourage any complaint that is or could be made. This of course could be proved by actions or statements, and it is very disturbing to contemplate what that evidence might have been.
The settlements were made before any deposition testimony was taken for many athletes, administrators or coaches. One could conclude that the money was paid to avoid such testimony being taken, because it's damage, even if not legal damage in the context of this lawsuit, might be far greater than $2.48 million. There is coverage in The Tennesseean, and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.
Lexington, Kentucky discrimination lawyer Robert Abell represents individuals and employees in discrimination cases; contact him at 859-254-7076.