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Former Women’s Basketball Coach Resolves Claims Against the University of North Florida for $1.25 million

Correia & Puth client Mary Tappmeyer settles her Title IX claims of retaliation and sex discrimination against University of North Florida

JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA (March 11, 2016) – The University of North Florida (UNF) and its former women’s basketball coach Mary Tappmeyer have reached an agreement to settle Coach Tappmeyer’s sex discrimination and retaliation claims associated with her termination from UNF in March 2015. Washington, D.C. firm Correia & Puth, PLLC represented Coach Tappmeyer in her civil rights claims against UNF, with additional support from Nancy Hogshead-Makar, CEO of Champion Women.

Coach Tappmeyer alleged that UNF terminated her from her long-standing position as UNF women’s basketball coach in March 2015 in retaliation for her complaints of sex discrimination experienced by female student athletes and because of sex discrimination against her. Coach Tappmeyer alleged that UNF provided male basketball recruits academic exceptions to UNF’s admissions requirements, but refused any exceptions to female players; that the women’s basketball team had unequal operating budgets, travel budgets, locker rooms, and training and office facilities as compared to the men’s team; and UNF disparaged the women’s basketball team coaches to current players, recruits, other members of the athletic department, UNF donors, and the UNF community.

Coach Tappmeyer also alleged sex discrimination against her and other female coaches of UNF’s women’s teams. She asserted that while UNF paid her significantly less than her male counterpart, the University held her to more stringent performance standards than her male counterpart, and thwarted her recruitment and coaching efforts.

Coach Tappmeyer was head coach of the women’s basketball team since its inception at UNF in 1991. She alleged that UNF’s actions violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Equal Pay Act of 1963, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. UNF will pay Coach Tappmeyer $1,250,000.00 to settle her claims prior to litigation.

“Coach Tappmeyer is a dedicated advocate for her female student athletes. We asserted that she stood up for her players when UNF basically suffocated her program,” stated Linda M. Correia, lead counsel for Coach Tappmeyer. “This resolution sends a clear message that retaliation is not okay when coaches stand up for their players’ equal rights. Since the passage of Title IX in 1972, women and girls have made significant strides in education. Despite great progress, inequities in athletics still remain, and our goal is to end barriers to participation and success in athletics.”

Regarding the resolution of her claims, Coach Tappmeyer stated, “As a life-long player and then coach, I know first-hand how great the game of basketball is and how significant of a role the game can play in a student’s life. Women at UNF deserve an equal opportunity to not only participate in athletics, but also to succeed. I am hopeful UNF will work to get back to the days when it prided itself on gender equity in athletics. Though I wish my time at UNF would have ended differently, I look forward to continuing to root for and support the female Ospreys.”

Nancy Hogshead-Makar had high praise for Tappmeyer, “I applaud Coach Tappmeyer for pursuing her ongoing sex discrimination complaints over the past year. Many coaches would have taken the overt discrimination in the teeth and headed to a new school. Her settlement today opens up new pathways for gender equality at the University of North Florida and across the country.”

For more information on this case, contact Correia & Puth at (202) 602-6500 or firm@correiaputh.com.

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Correia & Puth, PLLC, is a Washington, DC law firm dedicated solely to representing employees confronting workplace discrimination, retaliation, and unfair treatment. The firm is a recognized, national leader on using Title IX as an effective mechanism for maintaining educational environments free from discrimination and retaliation.

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