St. Petersburg Times Online: Sports
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather

printer version

Report: Griffin actions proper

AD did not violate USF policy in handling discrimination complaints, it says.


© St. Petersburg Times, published January 24, 2001

TAMPA -- South Florida athletic director Paul Griffin should have taken a "different approach" in handling allegations of racial discrimination in the women's basketball program, but he did not violate university policies, a report released by the university said Tuesday.

During a news conference, USF president Judy Genshaft released the findings of a four-month investigation by former 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Joseph W. Hatchett and two associates in his Tallahassee law firm.

The report, more than 100 pages long, examines the university's policies and procedures concerning racial allegations. In it, Hatchett:

Reviewed the handling of former player Dione Smith's allegations of racial discrimination that led to a federal lawsuit.

Compared USF's policies with those of the other nine state universities and recommended changes based on stronger policies at other schools.

Found that although the athletic department operated within university policy when it conducted an in-house investigation of alleged racial harassment, it should have turned the matter over to the university's Equal Opportunity Affairs office.

Recommended changes to USF's policies for discrimination complaints, including mandatory reporting by university supervisors of any discrimination complaint, a measure Genshaft implemented immediately. Under the previous guidelines, only sexual harassment complaints had to be reported to the Equal Opportunity Affairs office.

"If the University had this requirement in place at the time of Smith's complaint ... requiring (former assistant athletic director Hiram) Green or Griffin to report allegations of racial discrimination to the EOA office, it possibly could have avoided many of the problems that this investigation has exposed," the report said. "The Athletic Department, however, should have realized that the EOA office was best equipped to investigate allegations of racial discrimination and should have referred Smith to the EOA office."

Because university policy did not require supervisors to refer allegations of racial discrimination to the Equal Opportunity Affairs office, Griffin "acted within the scope of university policy," the report concluded.

Genshaft said Griffin, athletic director since 1986, will not be disciplined.

"In two separate occasions the report states that athletic director Paul Griffin did not violate policies of the university," Genshaft said. "It was a judgment call."

Griffin was attending Conference USA meetings in Amelia Island and could not be reached for comment.

Genshaft praised the report, saying implementation of the recommended changes would help USF fulfill its commitment to diversity.

"(Hatchett's) report makes it clear that USF needs improved policies to guide supervisors in responding to discrimination complaints," Genshaft said. "His recommendations will improve the environment for diversity throughout the entire university."

Based on Hatchett's recommendations, Genshaft announced that the Equal Opportunity Affairs office and its Office of Diversity Initiatives will be consolidated into one office, the Diversity and Equal Opportunity Office.

Genshaft said a national search will be started immediately for an associate vice president to oversee the office, which will answer directly to Genshaft and the university provost. Interim provost David Stamps will oversee the reorganization and immediate implementation of the policy changes suggested by the report. The new associate vice president will be required to submit a report to Genshaft every semester on diversity at USF.

Smith and seven other black former players have filed federal lawsuits against former coach Jerry Ann Winters and the university alleging racial discrimination. Former coach Tara Gibson has filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging she was hired only because she is black and was ignored and excluded because of her race.

Winters was fired in December after the Equal Opportunity Affairs office determined she retaliated against Smith for participating in the internal investigation by dismissing her from the team.

Green conducted an internal investigation and found in April 1999 that a "re-ocurring theme of racism" existed in the women's basketball program. Winters received professional development training sessions from Griffin and was sent to a four-hour diversity seminar.

The Hatchett report criticized the handling of Smith's case.

"The main problem in the Smith case is that the athletic department attempted to handle this matter itself instead of calling upon the EOA office to become involved," it stated. "... Having the athletic department investigate itself clearly invites criticism of the investigative findings and as suspicion that the charges were "swept under the rug.' "

Jonathan L. Alpert, the attorney for Smith and the other former players who are suing, said the report criticizes certain actions, then condones them.

"If Paul Griffin is part of the problem, as the report seems to indicate, leaving Paul Griffin and this present (athletic department) structure intact, which the report recommends, is like leaving the fox in charge of the hen house," Alpert said.

The report's findings were unsatisfactory for Smith, who has remained on scholarship and has been offered a chance to rejoin the team since Winters was fired.

"They are trying to make progress, but at the same time they are trying to make one person the (villain)," Smith said. "Just getting rid of coach Winters is not the issue. The issue at hand is that it was brought forward two years ago and nothing was done about it. You had somebody besides the head coach that knew problems were going on."

Alpert said that if USF really wanted an honest evaluation, the report would have determined if the former players' allegations had merit. Hatchett said before his investigation he would not determine that.

"I have the highest regard for Judge Hatchett, and I commend his good intentions," Alpert said. "But the problem that we have of institutional racism at this university continues and is made worse by self-limiting reports such as this one."

Back to Sports
Back to Top

© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
Contact the Times | Privacy Policy
Standard of Accuracy | Terms, Conditions & Copyright

From the Times sports desk

Super Bowl
  • $600,000 Super Bowl rental may involve Bilzerian
  • He just doesn't get it
  • Master matador Dilfer handles reporters
  • Musical time warp
  • Nevermore, Baltimore
  • Turf rivals: Tractor pull, poetry
  • Media glare cuts into nude club's business
  • Super Bowl attracts radio celebrities
  • Dixon hopes team can count on him
  • Fan chat
  • Angling for fuller field view
  • NFC guest analyst
  • Dilfer chat
  • AFC guest analyst
  • Football novices: jump in the pool
  • Sharpe remarks
  • Super side line
  • Living the life of NFL leisure
  • After 10 years, Cross can't take this for granted
  • Super Bowl notebook
  • Ravens quotebook
  • Giants quotebook
  • Giants notebook
  • RBs insist there's gasin the tanks
  • Ravens notebook
  • Exactly who is hitting who here?
  • Full houses, high rates
  • Coverage of the big game takes on international flavor
  • 'There is nothing here'
  • Celebrity watch
  • Meet the men behind the bowl: Wilson
  • Meet the men behind the Bowl: Kelly
  • The road of the rookie
  • Spotlight on Tampa

  • Bucs/NFL
  • Glazers: Bucs. Aren't. For. Sale. Period.
  • Bucs get 5-hour look at Palmer

  • College basketball
  • 'Fear of failure' bedevils Gators
  • Tonight: UF at Auburn

  • Colleges
  • Report: Griffin actions proper
  • College football roundup

  • Lightning/NHL
  • And the last shall stay there
  • Svoboda's recovery not going as hoped
  • NHL roundup

  • Magic
  • Teamwork lifts Magic in 2 OTs

  • Outdoors
  • Captain's corner

  • Et cetera
  • Davenport deals with image issue
  • Sports briefs

  • Preps
  • Eagle earns yet another honor
  • Senior duo leads Berkeley through its tough schedule
  • Panthers go cold, fall to Tigers 71-60
  • Wildcat wants last match to not be against futility
  • Dragons rally past Hawks
  • Jesuit shuts out Berkeley 5-0
  • Ross commits to Notre Dame

  • From the wire

    From the state sports wire
  • Jacksonville's Spicer placed on IR after leg surgery
  • FIU-Western Kentucky game postponed because of Jeanne
  • Brown anxious to face old team for first time
  • Dolphins' desperate defense readies for Roethlisberger
  • Former Sarasota lineman sheds tough-guy image with Michigan
  • Rothstein rejoins Heat as assistant
  • No. 16 Florida has history on its side against Kentucky
  • FSU and Clemson QBs both off to slow starts