James says she had had enough
By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Ferd Lewis
Saying that, "for the most part I'm an optimistic person, but you get to the point where you say enough is enough — and I reached that point," University of Hawai'i track coach Carmyn James said she felt compelled to file a lawsuit against the athletic department and director Herman Frazier alleging discrimination in the treatment of women's athletics.
The decision that led to Thursday's filing in circuit court, she said, crystallized while attending the Aug. 30 UH dinner celebrating 35 years of Title IX and Hawai'i Congresswoman Patsy Mink's contributions to the landmark equality in education amendment that carries her name.
James is in her eighth season at UH, where she serves as head coach of women's track and field, indoor track and cross country teams.
"We believe that despite her personal professionalism, she is being treated as the red-headed stepchild," James' attorney Mary Wilkowski said.
James said listening to speakers at the fundraising event in Mink's honor, "really hit home with me, and I'm thinking I've tried everything that I can from within, and I just felt I had to take this final option that was left and try and create a positive change within the department.
"I just felt after five years I've been patient, persistent and positive and little progress was being made," James said.
UH officials said last night they had not yet be served with a copy of the suit and declined comment. Frazier, who arrived in Monroe, La., last night, where the football team is headquartered for today's game against Louisiana Tech, said he also has yet to see details of the suit. Frazier said, "we keep copies of everything (dealing with salaries, contracts, expenses) within our department for years and years and years but we can't comment on anything that we haven't seen."
As preparation for the suit, Wilkowski said a complaint had been filed with the Office of Civil Rights.
"What happens is, they conduct an investigation and before or after the investigation is completed, the litigant has the right to remove it and proceed in court," Wilkowski said.
At the Mink dinner, James said, speakers noted that Title IX has been around for 35 years "but battles need to be fought and the message was clear that it was our responsibility and obligation to carry on and not assume everything is good the way that it is."
James said: "I just sort of felt that I needed to raise my hand and speak up and maybe hopefully, create some positive change."
James is asking for unspecified economic and general damages, and is asking the court to ensure that the terms of her employment at UH are free of discrimination.
James' suit follows by two months a Fresno, Calif., jury's decision to award fired Fresno State women's volleyball coach Lindy Vivas $5.85 million in her suit.
Reach Ferd Lewis at email@example.com.