DES MOINES– During the excitement of their first Women’s NCAA Tournament since 2007, Drake University and Women’s Head Basketball coach Jennie Baranczyk are busy battling another opponent in the courtroom. Tuesday afternoon the University and Baranczyk filed their response to an ongoing lawsuit with former assistant women’s basketball coach Courtney Graham.
Graham, who coached from May 2012 through 2015, was one of the first hires made by Baranczyk, but according to the lawsuit filed on in December, Baranczyk pressured Graham to resign as assistant women’s basketball coach after her sexual orientation became public. There are six charges listed in the petition including sexual orientation discrimination, negligence, emotional distress, and harassment. There are also two charges of retaliation in the suit.
Tuesday’s response from Drake and Branczyk denies those allegations and points to Graham’s poor performance as the reason she was forced to step down from the team. The defendants claim Graham did not receive positive reviews as a coach. Citing that in or around November of 2014, Graham reported she could no longer perform scouting and recruiting duties and felt she could no longer execute proper scouting reports. It goes on to say Graham’s performance continued to decline throughout the Fall of 2014 as she arrived late to work and practices. Because of this, Graham’s responsibilities were handed off to other coaches through the end of the 2014-2015 season.
Baranczyk denies forcing Graham to take time off because of her sexual orientation and admits that it was due to her declining work performance in the Fall of 2014.
Graham also claimed that Baranczyk sent her home without explanation, treated her differently and shared medical information after learning of her sexual orientation, all of which the defendants deny.
Upon stepping down, Graham claimed Baranczyk and the University prevented her from seeking similar employment and provided negative information to prospective employers. The defendants not only deny that accusation but say Baranczyk and Drake University assisted in her employment search, but Graham declined a position offered by another program.
Drake University and Jennie Baranczyk have requested that Graham’s lawsuit be dismissed in it’s entirety. They also request that they be repaid for the costs of defending the lawsuit.