Former SDSU Coach Beth Burns Wins Wrongful Termination Lawsuit

On Behalf of | September 28, 2016 | News

Posted September 28th, 2016.

This article first appeared in San Diego Union-Tribune on September 28, 2016.

By Dan Stack

According to Mark Zeigler of the The San Diego Union-Tribune, ex-San Diego State (SDSU) women’s basketball coach Beth Burns has won her lawsuit against her former employer from wrongful termination.

Zeigler writes that as a result Burns will receive a $3.35 million reward from a San Diego Superior Court jury for whistle-blower retaliation after complaining about potential Title IX violations.

Burns was fired by SDSU in April of2013—in her second stint at the school—and alleged “SDSU fired her in retaliation for her unwavering demands that SDSU put women’s basketball and men’s athletics on an equal footing.”

SDSU states that it fired Burns for abusing and mistreating coaches on her staff.

More from Zeigler:

SDSU ultimately identified two central reasons for her termination – a video from a February 2013 home game in which Burns elbowed assistant coach Adam Barrett, seated to her immediate right, after a defensive lapse; and an internal investigation that chronicled an alleged “history” of mistreating subordinates.

Burns, 57, characterized the elbow as incidental contact on a crowded bench, and her attorneys called the athletic department probe “a sham … to find a way to fire Coach Burns.” She sued for breach of contract, gender discrimination and whistle-blower retaliation for lodging complaints about gender equity – saying her career, and life, have been turned upside down – and asked for damages totaling nearly $9 million.

“If it was a movie, I’d walk out,” Burns told the jury early in the month-long trial. “It’s hard to believe that it’s your own life.”

Suffice to say, this is quite the victory for Burns, as it is vindication for her character, which had been called into question.

Burns, 57, is now an associate head coach at USC. For her career, she has amassed an overall record of 376-251 while also being the head coach at Ohio State