U settles suit with ex-athletic counselor

Patrick Hayes

After one day of testimony, the University agreed to a $140,000 settlement Tuesday morning with a former men’s athletics counselor who charged the University with discriminating against him because he is gay.
Richard Marsden, one of the early whistle-blowers in the academic fraud scandal in the men’s basketball program, also claimed the University treated him unfairly because of his depression.
In January of 1998, Marsden produced a memo documenting that former men’s basketball coach Clem Haskins asked him to write an academic paper for a student-athlete.
The settlement includes compensation for legal fees and a parking spot. Marsden is still employed by the University in an entry-level position as an assistant academic advisor in the Interdepartmental College.
The University agreed to settle the sexual-orientation discrimination case to avoid further litigation but has admitted no wrongdoing.
“We thought this was the most appropriate and efficient use of University resources,” said Jeffrey Vigil, associate general counsel.
From 1993 to 1997, Marsden said the University created and condoned a homophobic work environment, making it impossible for him to do his job properly.
He also accused the University of paying him less money than his colleagues and said the University deprived him of employee benefits.
He said this pattern of alleged misconduct continued despite repeated complaints to his superiors.
However, University officials have claimed Marsden failed to document the incidents and report his grievances to administrators.
The disability charge was dismissed last summer after a court determined the University provided sufficient accommodations for Marsden’s depression. He received treatment in 1997 and was granted paid leave from March to December 1998.
Marsden will receive $50,000 in damages, while his lawyer, Judith Schermer, will receive $60,000. An additional $30,000 will go to Marsden’s bankruptcy trustee, Vigil said.