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Former Detroit Mercy coach sues school over firing

A former assistant coach with the University of Detroit Mercy basketball team says he was fired after reporting an affair between another assistant coach and the school's athletic director. The man recently filed a wrongful discharge lawsuit against the university in the Wayne County Circuit Court, also arguing that UDM's athletic department fostered a culture of harassment during his time there.

According to the lawsuit, players on the school's team were well aware of the affair, breaking curfew during road games to sneak out of their rooms and listen to the couple "apparently having sex." The plaintiff alleges that the athletic director and coach then began showing obvious favoritism to certain players and unfairly punishing others in order to prevent news of the affair from becoming public, ultimately creating "dissension within the basketball program."

According to the university, the athletic director and assistant coach both resigned to follow other interests, though the plaintiff's attorney contends they were terminated in order to preserve the school's image. The plaintiff claims he was also fired, a move his attorney argued was likely motivated by a desire to avoid further publicizing the affair.

The lawsuit names the University of Detroit Mercy, a university-employed media consultant, the former athletic director and the other assistant coach as defendants. The plaintiff seeks at least $25,000 in damages, but also hopes to change the university's policy regarding whistleblowers. The school operates a website designed to field complaints and reports from whistleblowers, but the plaintiff argues that administrators too often ignore information it collects in this way. The plaintiff's attorney famously represented a group of police officers who successfully settled a whistleblower lawsuit with the mayor of Detroit for $8.4 million.

Source: USA Today, "Detroit AD, assistant coach had an affair, suit alleges," Carlos Monarrez, Jan. 31, 2013

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