Union offers job security to full-time coaches

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By Amit Shilton

After 15 years, only two playoff appearances and at least three formal complaints filed against her, women’s basketball coach Sandra Pothier is still coaching.

Now players are left to question what it would take to get the support from university administration to fire her. Pothier is currently under investigation by the office of Discrimination and Harassment after five members of her team filed a complaint against her last month, stating she made culturally insensitive remarks. And on top of that, Pothier doesn’t have the winning stats normally associated with a full-time coach.

So why is Pothier still around?

Once a coach becomes full-time, they are eligible for numerous benefits, not offered to part-time coaches. One being job security, since they become members of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU).

If an issue is raised with a union member, OPSEU will file a grievance, go through various negotiation levels with the employer and then proceed to meditation through a tribunal. Full-time coaches pay union dues, which entitles them to the protection. The athletics administration is waiting for the results of the investigation before taking any action.

“The union positions are a lot more strict and (inappropriate behaviour) has to go over several years (before we take action),” said interuniversity sports manager Terry Haggerty. “Part-time positions still need some justification but we don’t have to go to someone else to go through that.”

The other difference, Athletic Director David Dubois points out, is that “with a part-time employee you’re negotiating with the employee and there’s no union person involved.”

“OPSEU’s position is that obviously one of (it’s) roles is to defend members in various circumstances and in some cases that would fall to the union,” said communications officer David Cox. “We don’t defend them in every circumstance because in some cases they’ll have to get legal council.”

Ryerson currently employs four full-time coaches including men’s volleyball coach Mirek Porosa, men’s basketball coach Glenn Taylor, newly acquired men’s hockey coach Graham Wise and Pothier.

Porosa has taken his team from a provincial underdog to one of the top ranked squads in the country. This is only Taylor’s second year with Ryerson, but he revolutionized the basketball program at Memorial College. And Wise coached the York men’s hockey team for 19 years and won two OUA titles, two CIS titles and several coach of the year awards.

The five players that have recently left the women’s basketball team simply want the support from their school.

“I’d really like the school support but from past experiences and things I’ve heard I don’t know if we can get it,” said former Ram Julia Ounphongxay in a recent interview. “I’m hoping that something can be done.”

Pothier’s case is still under investigation and none of the parties involved are able to comment.

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