A different kind of March madness: Rene Portland resigns

by scribegrrrl

Rene Portland has left the locker room. The wildly successful Penn State basketball coach resigned Thursday in the wake of a lawsuit that claimed Portland had a “no-lesbian” policy during her 27-year reign over the Lady Lions.

Portland didn’t give a reason for her resignation but apparently was not forced to resign. Well, if by “was not forced” you mean “was left no other choice because of the decades-long PR nightmare.” I’m just guessing there.

Former Lady Lion Jennifer Harris painted a picture of Portland that’s anything but regal:

In a December 2005 lawsuit, Harris accused Portland of “humiliating, berating and ostracizing” her, and claimed she was told that she needed to look “more feminine.” The suit alleged Portland tried to force Harris, who says she is not gay, to leave the team.

Portland maintained Harris’ departure was purely related to basketball issues and disagreed with the school’s findings. …

Last April, Portland was reprimanded following a university investigation and threatened with dismissal for any future violation of the school’s discrimination policy. She also was fined $10,000 and ordered to take professional development “devoted to diversity and inclusiveness.”

Other players, including Cindy Davies, have alleged that Portland treated them similarly. Davies quit the team in 1981 and has stated that she struggled with depression after Portland confronted her about her relationship with the team manager.

The Harris lawsuit was settled over a month ago. But discrimination against lesbian athletes certainly continues. Will “bully coaches” like Portland become a thing of the past as stories like Davies’ and Harris’ continue to come to light? ESPN’s Mechelle Voepel says it well: “Ultimately, good coaches win their players’ hearts without having to control their minds.” And without, um, being homophobic monsters who openly establish policies against gay players. Good riddance, Rene.

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