College Sports

Sex discrimination lawsuit against St. Joseph alleges Jim Calhoun, others in athletic department involved in ‘boys club’ behavior

The former associate athletic director at the University of St. Joseph has filed a federal lawsuit against the school alleging sexual discrimination by longtime UConn basketball coach and current St. Joseph coach Jim Calhoun and his long-time assistant Glen Miller. The suit alleges disparaging comments the coaches made about her including Calhoun calling her "hot" and Miller telling her he'd "swipe left."

The lawsuit filed Wednesday by Jaclyn Piscitelli against the university also names former athletic director Bill Cardarelli for failing to take any action when she brought allegations against Calhoun to him and alleges that the former UConn basketball coach turned the athletic department into a "male-dominated, hostile work environment" for any females.

Piscitelli was fired from her job in June of this year and replaced by Josh Ingham, the sports information director.

"Jackie Piscitelli had a job she loved and excelled at in an environment in which she generally felt respected and valued as a professional," Magdalena Witkor, of the law firm Madsen, Prestley and Parenteau, said. "However, that work environment was swiftly and drastically transformed into one that was hostile and demeaning toward women once Jim Calhoun and Glen Miller joined the staff of USJ athletics. Rather than protecting Jackie and her female colleagues from further harassment and discrimination, USJ not only condoned this "boys' club", it fired Jackie in retaliation for daring to speak out against it.

The university has received and is reviewing the lawsuit, spokesperson Diana Sousa said in a statement.

"The University of Saint Joseph takes compliance with all matters relating to Title IX very seriously. The University does not comment on pending litigation," she said.

Calhoun, reached by phone said "I have no comment."

The 13-page complaint highlights several examples of what Piscitelli said was degrading treatment by Calhoun and Miller towards females. One example is called the "K-cup" incident.

Calhoun knocked a number of single-serve coffee "K-cups" onto the floor and stepped on them, creating a mess of coffee grounds and packaging on the floor and made Piscitelli clean them up, stating that if he made such a mess at home, his wife would clean up after him, the lawsuit said.

Cardarelli, who witnessed the K-cup incident, expressed to Piscitelli that he found the situation amusing and that he did not see anything wrong with Calhoun's behavior, the lawsuit states.

Cardarelli further asked Piscitelli, who Cardarelli was aware is not married, whether she would clean up after her husband in similar circumstances.

The lawsuit also said that many times Calhoun and particularly Miller used sexual innuendo's when talking to her.

On one occasion she alleges that Calhoun made the comment "Well, you're certainly hot."

The lawsuit also alleges Miller made numerous inappropriate comments from criticizing her for not being cheerful or smiling enough to on one occasion telling her "I'd swipe left too." A reference to the dating app "Tinder," in which users can swipe left to reject further contact with another user or swipe right to indicate sexual or romantic interest in another user.

The lawsuit said that Piscitelli reported the incidents of inappropriate and sexually harassing comments by Calhoun and Miller to Cardarelli, who did nothing with them.

The lawsuit also talks about how Calhoun turned the athletic department into a boy's club where some, including Ingham, got preferential treatment including extra interns and staff while she was given none. Piscitelli also was forced to give up her office and share one with two other male employees.

Calhoun, a Hall of Fame coach who won three national titles at UConn, was approached by Cardarelli to come out of retirement to start up the Division III men's basketball program at St. Joseph in the summer of 2017 after the school announced plans to become co-ed. He eventually agreed to take the position and Miller, who had been Calhoun's assistant at UConn was fired in 2017 as associate head coach by Kevin Ollie, was hired as director of operations to help Calhoun with the program.

With Calhoun, 77, fighting cancer, Miller took on much of the day-to-day duties of running the program, though Calhoun was on the sidelines for the games. Though his first roster consisted almost entirely of freshmen, the Blue Jays finished with a winning first season, and nearly reached the NCAA Tournament, losing to Albertus Magnus in the conference championship game.

Enrollment rose dramatically, both male and female, at the school while Calhouns presence brought national attention to St. Joseph.

Calhoun won three national championships during his career as UConn, from 1986-2012, and was inducted into the Naismith Hall of Fame in 2005. Calhoun accepted the "Best Coach" award, a lifetime achievement award, at the ESPYs in July.

It was announced in April that Cardarelli would step down as athletic director after 26 years so that he could become director of internships and sports studies in the undergraduate sport management and promotion program. It was announced at the same time that Lou Izzi, the former athletic director of New England College would take his place. Izzi never made it to St. Joseph, however, instead taking the same job at University of Bridgeport and Amanda Devitt, formerly of University of Hartford, took over as St. Joseph athletic director.

Piscitelli is represented by Madsen, Prestley and Parenteau, a law firm that is also representing former UConn men's basketball coach Kevin Ollie in proceedings against the university. Ollie has claimed he was wrongfully terminated from his position. Ollie is also represented by the same firm in a suit against Miller in which Ollie and the mother of a former player accuse Miller of slandering them.