This is Ryerson’s Don Imus Affair.
Last August, five women quit the basketball team, alleging that coach Sandra Pothier made racially insensitive comments to two players.
Specifically, the group charged that Pothier told former female athlete of the year Amanda Redhead that she didn’t respect male authority figures because of her black heritage. When confronted by Julia Ounphongxay about the comment, Pothier asked the player if she would be offended to be called sheltered because she was Asian.
In the aftermath, Pothier sued the Eyeopener for breaking the story, two major Toronto papers covered the scandal and the two guys running Sports and Rec were canned by administration — for a variety of reasons, but Pothier likely played a big role.
The story had it all: female basketball players, insensitive comments and a whirl of controversy. Yet Pothier, unlike CBS’s Imus, wasn’t fired.
The Office of Discrimination and Harassment launched a confidential investigation, but as far as we know, there were no repercussions whatsoever.
With a new year and a new interim director, Sports and Rec might want to put the issue behind them, but that’s the coward’s way out.
Right now, someone needs to answer a simple question: Why, oh why, does Sandra Pothier still have a team, office, paycheque, etc.
You fired the popular duo of athletic director Dave Dubois and interuniverstiy sport manager Terry Haggerty, no problem. But when it comes to firing the unpopular and tactless basketball coach, you don’t budge. This is all not to mention the fact that Pothier has struggled to win games. After 16 years, her team has made the playoffs twice.
Can’t you fire her for that in itself?
Like a game of pick-up basketball, it’s time to call your own foul. Basic sportsmanship implores you to act. By keeping Pothier on the payroll, you send a scary message to potential recruits.
So Ryerson, go ahead and build a new athletics facility, develop a women’s hockey program, raise athletic fees, hire full-time coaches — all of that is great. But it will all mean nothing as long as we’re known for ignoring this scandal.
True, Imus broadcast his derogatory remarks and CBS had nothing to hide behind. In the end, there is only the word of five basketball players (who had everything to lose) against Pothier’s.
That, though, does not excuse Ryerson’s duck and cover. If nothing notable comes of the players’ sacrifice, then we all should be ashamed.
As one-time athlete of the year Redhead said last January, “It’s very disappointing to know that I was here for three years and it’s basically I was here in vain and I definitely regret ever playing at the school.”
Job well done, Ryerson. Job well done. By the way, Don Imus is reportedly negotiating a comeback, so does that mean Pothier is in line for a raise?