Georgia Tech head coach MaChelle Joseph looks on against Notre Dame Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019, in South Bend, Ind. Notre Dame won 90-50.
Photo: Robert Franklin/AP
Photo: Robert Franklin/AP

MaChelle Joseph’s attorney asserts Tech coach was suspended as retaliation

The legal counsel for Georgia Tech women’s basketball coach MaChelle Joseph said in a statement that she has not been given an explanation for why she was put on leave Wednesday and alleged that she is being retaliated against by the athletic department for raising gender-equity concerns.

The athletic department, in a release issued Wednesday, stated that Joseph had been placed on leave and termed it a “pending personnel matter.”

The statement from Lisa J. Banks, Joseph’s attorney, said that the school “has failed to provide any explanation to Coach Joseph, her agent, or her lawyers, despite repeated requests, we are left to conclude that this is the latest, and most serious, action in a string of ongoing retaliation that she has suffered for raising concerns about gender equity issues in the Athletic Department.”

The statement added that Joseph could not think of an action that would have warranted her being placed on leave.

“Coach Joseph intends to take whatever steps are necessary to defend her reputation and return to coaching her team, which is currently poised to earn a much coveted berth in in the NCAA tournament,” the statement read.

After the action from the school and the statement in response from Joseph’s team, a return to her job may be unfeasible, potentially putting an end to her 16-year tenure as head coach.

A Tech spokesman said that the school does not comment on pending personnel matters. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has requested Joseph’s personnel file, pursuant to the Freedom of Information act. The school has yet to fulfill the request and has 90 business days to do so.

Joseph is in her 16th season as Tech’s head coach. She has had the longest and most successful tenure of any coach in team history.

She declined a request for comment Thursday.

Tech appointed assistant coach Mark Simons to be the acting coach in Joseph’s stead. The Yellow Jackets play at Miami on Thursday night. With a record of 17-10, Tech is trying to play its way into the NCAA tournament.

Two team members, starting guards Francesca Pan and Kierra Fletcher, did not make the trip for what a team spokeswoman said were “personal reasons.”

Statement from Lisa J. Banks, counsel for MaChelle Joseph:

“Head Women’s Basketball Coach MaChelle Joseph was suspended yesterday without explanation from the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). Given that the school has failed to provide any explanation to Coach Joseph, her agent, or her lawyers, despite repeated requests, we are left to conclude that this is the latest, and most serious, action in a string of ongoing retaliation that she has suffered for raising concerns about gender equity issues in the Athletic Department. Coach Joseph, who has served at Georgia Tech for over 15 years, and is the winningest coach in the history of Georgia Tech Women’s Basketball, can conceive of no action by her that would warrant such a drastic and punitive measure. Coach Joseph intends to take whatever steps are necessary to defend her reputation and return to coaching her team, which is currently poised to earn a much coveted berth in the NCAA tournament.”

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