Brandeis University has fired its men’s basketball coach for alleged discriminatory and racist behavior toward student-athletes, and put its athletic director on administrative leave.
Several students filed “serious discrimination complaints” last year against the coach, Brian Meehan, Brandeis President Ron Liebowitz said in a letter Thursday. The complaints alleged “preferential and discriminatory treatment, unprofessional behavior, and racially biased harassment,” according to the letter.
After a new complaint was brought last week against Meehan, he was placed on administrative leave, the complaints were investigated, and he was fired. The players had taken their complaints to the university’s human resources department in May 2017, the sports news and blog website Deadspin reported.
“No one at Brandeis should ever have to experience discrimination or harassment from any other member of this community,” Liebowitz wrote. “The university is committed to responding promptly, vigorously, and effectively once notified of any act of discrimination or harassment, and forbids retaliation against any individual who comes forward with a good-faith complaint.”
In one incident, Meehan told a black player, “I’ll ship you back to Africa,” according to Deadspin.
A day later, on Friday, the university placed its athletic director, Lynne Dempsey, on administrative leave, Liebowitz announced. The Boston-area school — a Jewish-sponsored, nonsectarian research university — also hired two attorneys to conduct an independent investigation of the university’s policies and procedures in the case.
Liebowitz said he was disturbed to learn about the student-athletes’ frustrations, as they worked through the system of filing the complaints and waited for a resolution.
“They found our processes moved slowly and opaquely, and ultimately inadequately,” he said in a second letter to the campus community. “Anyone accused of committing an offense on this campus — student, faculty, or staff member — is entitled to a fair investigation and due process. This can take time. In this case, the process did not work the way it should have for the students who filed complaints. This cannot and should not happen again.”
A communitywide town hall meeting was scheduled for Monday afternoon.
Meehan was the winningest coach in Brandeis history, going 205-160 in his 15 years guiding the program, including an appearance in the Division III Final Four.