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UNF settles with ex-coach who threatened suit

UNF: Mary Tappmeyer threatened Title IX related lawsuit

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The University of North Florida will pay former women's basketball coach Mary Tappmeyer $750,000 in a settlement after the ex-coach threatened to sue the university.

Tappmeyer said UNF Athletic Director Lee Moon discriminated against her on the basis of sex/gender and other violations described as Title IX infractions, according to UNF.

The university said the Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity conducted a thorough review in 2015 and determined the allegations lacked merit.

READ: UNF's final report on allegations

But the university said it decided to settle because it would end up costing the school less than a million-dollar court battle would.

UNF President John Delaney emphasized that the settlement does not mean the university concedes to any of the allegations.

Delaney says said it was a tough decision, because he strongly believes the university would have won the lawsuit, but in the end, settling made the most sense.

“Last week, I started to change my mind on it, and then I realized that it was just the right business decision to make, and so, our board unanimously approved that on Tuesday,” Delaney said. “When you're going to spend more in legal fees than you're settling a case for, it's what's called a nuisance lawsuit and these things have the capacity to really cost a lot of money in legal fees."

UNF said Tappmeyer made the following allegations against Moon in a meeting on April 16, 2015:

1) He was homophobic and did not want you to recruit gay/lesbian student athletes

2) He was racist and stated that nobody wants to watch an all-black team play and asked you to recruit in the Midwestern section of the United States

3) He was sexist and biased against female coaches because he wanted you to hire a male assistant coach, had consistently replaced female coaches with male coaches, made employment contract salary decisions resulting in unequal pay for female coaches and wanted pregnant assistant coaches fired

4) Basketball facilities for women were different for men's teams

5) Operating budgets, scholarships and recruitment practices were different based upon gender.
UNF said it retains Title IX consultants to regularly review compliance.

Tappmeyer told UNF she hired counsel to review the concerns because her contract was expiring at the end of April 2015, according to UNF.

"You stated that you never discussed your concerns with the Director of EOD/Title IX Administrator because you feared you would be fired and because you had spoken with the University President who caused you to believe that your job was protected," UNF said to Tappmeyer in a letter.

“I think she wants to blame somebody else for not being able to win. And she was given the resources, and unfortunately she was a  good division 2 coach, Division 1 AA. But the transition to Division 1 just wasn't successful for us with the women's team in basketball," Delaney said.

UNF said each time Tappmeyer brought an allegation to its attention, it was investigated thoroughly and completely.

The majority of the settlement will be paid from the State's Risk Management Office.

UNF did not renew Tappmeyer's contract at the end of the 2014-15 season, after 11 losing seasons.

Tappmeyer was with the university for more than 20 years. It’s something Delaney said made the situation even more difficult.

“We said, 'look, we're committed to women's sports. The other women's sports are doing very, very well here on campus and it's just time for a change' and then offered her another job on campus and she decided not to do that. We wish her well,” said Delaney. 

Delaney told News4Jax the overall health of the athletic department is good and all teams are performing well.