Students react to VCU coach dismissal - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

Students react to VCU coach dismissal

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

VCU students and faculty met with the school in a town hall meeting Thursday to discuss the controversial dismissal of the women's volleyball coach.

James Finley says the university's new athletic director let him go because he's gay. VCU says it's committed to honoring diversity.

Administrators launched an investigation into why the coach's contract wasn't renewed. But until the findings are revealed, some people at VCU don't seem to be convinced.

The first VCU student at the microphone - walked out.

He was upset that administration wouldn't discuss why Finley was let go after eight seasons. The university says it's a confidential personnel issue, now under investigation.

"Many, many of us came to find out information about this, and I feel like this is a waste of our time," said the student.

The athletic director, Ed McLaughlin, had released this statement:

"The VCU volleyball program needs new leadership if it is to achieve athletic and academic success at an elite level nationally."

Players on the team were shocked when they heard their coach was dismissed - after their most successful season ever.

They say the explanation was vague.

"I'm just hoping to actually get an answer as to why he was let go. We're just confused," said VCU volleyball player Jasmine Waters.

A VCU professor said Finley's dismissal could compromise the university's reputation.

"I'm getting emails from across the country expressing concern about the reputation of VCU, in terms of being a place that embraces diversity.... Is a risk here."

Finley says another openly gay staff member in the department was demoted. The university confirmed that those were the only two position changes...so far.

Officials say her salary hasn't changed - just her title.

"The only two out gay people..are the only two job changes that have happened?...well isn't that interesting," said one VCU staff member.

But the university says the investigation must take its course.

"We may feel passionate about some things...but we need to understand that we have to let processes take place," said VCU Chief Diversity Officer Wanda S. Mitchell.

VCU's president will review the findings, which must be submitted within a month and a half.

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