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Agreement reached in Colby College coaches discrimination lawsuit

Colby College and five female coaches reach settlement regarding fair pay, treatment, lawyers said.

WATERVILLE, Maine — Colby College and five of its female head coaches have reached a settlement in a lawsuit filed over fair pay and treatment, attorneys for both parties said Friday.

Complaints filed by the coaches "have been resolved to the mutual satisfaction of all parties. The Coaches, Colby’s Department of Athletics, and the entire College community are pleased that the matter has been resolved constructively and amicably," Kelly M. Hoffman, who represents the coaches, and Jerrol A. Crouter, representing the college, wrote in a joint statement released Friday.

Six female head coaches filed a Complaint of Discrimination in Employment lawsuit with the Maine Human Rights Commission in March of 2021.

The coaches were Terren Allen (softball), Tracey Cote (women's and men's Nordic skiing), Karen Henning (women’s lacrosse), Kristin Shaw (women’s soccer), Kelly Terwilliger (field hockey), and Holley Tyng (women’s ice hockey).

Tyng withdrew from the lawsuit in April 2021. Shaw left Colby College in July 2021 to pursue coaching opportunities elsewhere. 

Hoffman said during a Zoom interview Friday that these discriminatory lawsuits must be filed with the MHRC. It's not an option to file the lawsuit in a court of law. 

In the suit, the coaches pointed to unequal pay compared to their male counterparts, Title VII discrimination, and other issues with the school.

Hoffman said in a zoom interview Friday this type of legal complaint must go through the Maine Human Rights Commission process, it is not an option to file a lawsuit of this nature in a court of law.

“So that’s why these coaches started where they started," Hoffman said.

Among other complaints, the coaches said they were responsible for more secondary tasks than their male counterparts and said resources including medical support, trainers, and facilities were not distributed equally between men's and women's sports.

"I arguably have been saddled with the most secondary or service responsibilities in the athletic department," Shaw wrote. "I am a member and leader of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, which meets biweekly for several hours. When there was a national search for an Athletic Director, I also was required to serve on the search or hiring committee, which happened during my season and required that I spend a lot of time focusing on assisting with the hiring process for the Athletic Director. The Colby College men’s soccer coaches secondary responsibility was to create a Google document for Colby coaches to fill in their team's community service hours."

"Colby pays me less than comparator male head coaches and requires me to put in more effort than my male comparator and colleagues," Shaw continued.

Hoffman echoed the same message from the joint statement and said it was a "great outcome for everybody."

Crouter referred to the joint statement when reached for comment Friday but did agree all parties were satisfied with the settlement.

Reporter Hannah Dineen attended and played ice hockey at Colby College.