Alabama athletics hit with sex discrimination suit

The University of Alabama Athletic Department faces a sex discrimination lawsuit over allegations the athletic department, Mal Moore and Dave Hart violated provisions of Title IX, the Equal Pay Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Age Discrimination Act, & more. At the center of the allegations is how the University’s athletic department treated former cheerleading coach Debbie Greenwell. Kevin Scarbinsky of the Birmingham News was the first to report the story. You can read the original report here, and view the lawsuit here.

No lawsuit would be complete without a comparison between the former cheerleading coach’s salary (only $85,000) and Alabama Crimson Tide football coach Nick Saban’s salary (about $4 million). The claims are interesting on many levels. This is particularly true in the realm of how the athletic department administrators allegedly interacted with Greenwell. There appears to be a touch of arrogance in the athletic building.

This is only one side of the story, and it will be interesting to hear more from the University. It appears Greenwell was treated poorly by Alabama. However, Greenwell’s lawyers overreach in certain sections of the lawsuit. For instance: “There is no logical reason for the regulation by the NCAA to have a bearing on whether or not job duties are comparable.” Well, considering this is college athletics and whether or not cheerleading is a sport would seem to matter. You aren’t really a coach without a team, and it isn’t a team unless you are playing a sport. I’m not near a law library, but a quick Google search found this: “Federal Court Rules: Cheerleading Not a Sport.” I am more inclined than most to say cheerleading could be a sport, but even I rolled my eyes at this section of the complaint.

However, this was one of the more important points made in the case: “She pointed out the time commitment required of the cheerleaders, and the discrepancies in what they were provided in comparison to members of the band and the athletic trainers.” The band members and athletic trainers are far more closely related to cheerleaders than Nick Saban and other coaches—the band and trainers appear to be support personnel to football and other athletic department work. This would be analogous to cheerleaders. This appears to be one of the more troubling areas of the lawsuit. If true, it could be difficult for Alabama to defend its treatment of Greenwell and the cheerleaders.