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Fired college football coach sues for wrongful termination, discrimination

Porter ready to graduate players of character and build national exposure at FVSU

Kevin Porter spoke at a press conference about becoming the new Fort Valley State University football coach.
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Kevin Porter spoke at a press conference about becoming the new Fort Valley State University football coach.

Former Fort Valley State University football coach Donald Pittman has filed a $750,000 lawsuit claiming he was wrongfully ousted and suffered age and sexual discrimination.

The suit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, names the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia and three university officials — university president Paul Jones, chief compliance officer Denise Eady and chief of staff Kendall Isaac as defendants.

The university issued a statement Tuesday saying, “Regarding Mr. Pittman, Fort Valley State University is confident that our processes were fair and transparent and conducted in the best interests of our athletic program and our students as a whole. Beyond that, our practice is not to comment on possible pending litigation or personnel matters.”

A spokesman for the Board of Regents declined comment.

According to the lawsuit:

The Fort Valley football program’s budget was cut from $324,000 in 2013 to $150,000 in 2014 and $100,000 in 2015.

Football scholarships were cut from 22 to nine and a number of players’ scholarships were revoked by the school or the school otherwise failed to fulfill its “financial assurances.”

In November 2015, a student athlete alleged the university’s athletic director failed to follow through on a promise to pay student athletes’ rent. An investigation was launched at the school amid former students athletes’ allegations that Pittman paid their rent in violation of NCAA rules.

Eady, who conducted the probe, concluded Pittman violated NCAA bylaws. Pittman contends Eady had no training related to the rules.

Pittman, who had led the team to 40 wins and 33 losses since his hiring in 2009, was fired March 28, 2016.

Pittman’s lawyer, Tyler Kaspers, said the NCAA cleared Pittman of wrongdoing after investigating the allegations for which he was fired.

“Mr. Pittman believes he was wrongfully terminated and was not provided the opportunity to defend himself against the false charges alleged against him by Fort Valley State,” Kaspers said Tuesday.

Pittman appealed his firing April 1, 2016, and a Fort Valley State University committee upheld his termination. He also appealed to the Board of Regents, but the appeal was denied Feb. 14, 2017, according to the lawsuit.

He filed a charge of discrimination with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging he was treated differently and less favorably than similarly situated woman and younger employees.

Before his firing, Pittman alleges he was told that Eady “had built a toxic and volatile environment” against him “for the perceived benefit of a sorority sister.”

He contends LuWanna Williams, Eady’s sorority sister, was promoted following Pittman’s termination. She now serves as the school’s associate director of athletics, according to the university’s website.

Pittman also alleges younger coaches who have committed proven NCAA violations were allowed to keep their jobs.

He also alleges the university has slandered and libeled him, by giving false information about him to the NCAA and others, according to the suit.

Amy Leigh Womack: 478-744-4398, @awomackmacon

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