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Ex-Lady Griz basketball coach Schweyen suing UM

Shannon Schweyen
Posted at 5:07 PM, Nov 15, 2021

MISSOULA — Former Montana Lady Griz women's basketball coach Shannon Schweyen is suing the university for sex discrimination after UM did not renew her contract in April 2020.

Schweyen filed a complaint in U.S. District Court in Missoula on Thursday, Nov. 11. The case was filed in the court of Judge Dana Christensen.

Schweyen claims in the complaint that UM was "in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964," saying UM opted to terminate Schweyen's employment at the school after "two of her players had decided to enter the NCAA transfer portal."

"When athletic director Kent Haslam reneged on his decision to extend Coach Schweyen’s contract in April 2020, the only reason he gave for the decision was that two women’s basketball players had entered the transfer portal," the lawsuit states. "He did not fire male coaches when their players entered the transfer portal in equal and greater numbers. When questioned, Haslam claimed Schweyen’s team culture was horrible, an obvious pretext for his unlawful act. This was sex discrimination."

In an email to MTN News, UM released a statement through spokesperson Dave Kuntz saying, "UM disagrees with the allegations in the complaint. UM will defend the allegations in the appropriate forum.”

Schweyen was the head women's basketball coach at UM for four seasons starting in August of 2016 where she amassed a record of 52-69 overall as well as a 34-42 record in Big Sky Conference play. Schweyen's teams were 1-4 at the Big Sky Conference tournament.

In Schweyen's final year at UM, the Lady Griz went 17-13 and 12-8 in league play before losing to Northern Arizona to begin the conference tournament in what would ultimately be Schweyen's last game as head coach.

"After our game in Boise I had a meeting with our administrator, Kent Haslam. He guaranteed me that my staff and I would be extended for a two-year contract," Schweyen told MTN Sports on April 1, 2020. "So we had gone into these past three weeks recruiting kids and moving on and forward in our program with that message and then (Wednesday), this afternoon, I was informed by Kent that he would not be renewing my contract."

Schweyen had spent almost three decades as a coach with the Lady Griz after a standout playing career. She was hired as a full-time assistant in 1993.

In the complaint, Schweyen directly compares her salary with that of head men's basketball coach Travis DeCuire as well as the turnover in other programs, such as football, and players entering the transfer portal. Schweyen accuses Haslam of not holding the men's coaches to the same standard as her program.

In the complaint, Schweyen offered a request for relief, where she's asking a judgment in favor of her, to be reinstated as head coach of the Lady Griz, "or award front pay in lieu thereof," and to award Schweyen "lost back pay and front pay, lost retirement benefits, compensatory damages, and all compensation and benefits of employment she would have received absent sex discrimination," along with court costs and expenses.

Click here to read the court documents associated with the case.