Ex-women's coach sues U. of Minnesota

Published Jan. 11, 2011 12:00 a.m. ET

Katie Brenny, who resigned last fall after two months as women’s golf coach at Minnesota, served a lawsuit Jan. 11 against the university, claiming that as a lesbian she faced discrimination from director of golf John Harris.

The 14-page complaint, which Brenny’s attorney, Donald Chance Mark Jr., said would be filed Jan. 12 in Hennepin County District Court in Minneapolis, cites the Minnesota Human Rights Act in seeking damages “in excess of $50,000’’ as determined by state statute.

Brenny, on the advice of counsel, would not comment when contacted by Golfweek but released a statement through her attorney.

“The atmosphere that was created became more and more hostile, to the point where it made it intolerable for me to even perform the limited administrative duties that had been reassigned to me,” Brenny said. “While I was never given an explanation for why I was treated this way, I later learned that I was discriminated against because of my gender and sexual preference.”

Harris, the 1993 U.S. Amateur champion who is in his first season as coach at his alma mater, also is a defendant in the complaint. He could not be located at the university or his home in suburban Minneapolis to be served notice, Mark said.

“We don’t know where he is,’’ Mark said, “but he’ll come back to town eventually and then we’ll plan on serving him with our complaint.’’

When reached via cellphone, Harris said was out of town but aware of the complaint.


“I can’t comment on any of it,’’ Harris said. “This thing will all play out, but I can’t comment on it now.’’

A message left on athletic director Joel Maturi’s cellphone was not immediately returned.

Brenny, 30, alleges that Harris minimized her coaching duties upon learning shortly after hiring her Aug. 30 as associate head coach that she is a homosexual. Brenny claims she was not allowed to travel to team events or offer swing instruction at practice.

“Harris delegated administrative tasks to (Brenny), such as typing up the schedules for the women’s and men’s teams and escorting several recruits for the men’s golf team to a university football game,” according to the complaint.

Brenny claims that when she scheduled a team meeting and photograph, Harris told her to cancel both, saying, “You have nothing to talk to these girls about.”

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