A Cal State Los Angeles administrator who’s suing the university and former athletic director Mike Garrett on sexual harassment allegations says in new court papers that the school has a history of not taking such complaints seriously.
Sheila Hudson, CSULA’s senior associate athletic director and a 1996 track Olympian, filed the lawsuit last Aug. 29 in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging employment violations and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The suit also alleges that Garrett lacked many capabilities necessary to do his job as CSULA’s athletic director, a position he held for about a year. The former USC football star previously held the same title at his alma mater.
“During my tenure in the Athletics Department at CSULA, I have received multiple complaints of sexual harassment, inappropriate conduct, and (I) have been a victim of same,” Hudson says in a sworn declaration. “In my experience, most, if not all of the complaints, are brushed under the table.”
According to the lawsuit, Garrett referred to female employees, including Hudson, as “Babe,” “Sweetheart,” “Love” and “Legs” during his relatively brief tenure as the CSULA athletic director. He left the university in 2016.
“Such conduct by Garrett was nothing more than a male, chauvinistic bullying tactic designed to immediately undermine the authority and importance of the woman he is harassing,” the suit alleges.
The complaint further states that Garrett, 73, had other shortcomings.
“Also almost immediately upon hire, it was clear that Garrett lacked the skill for the athletic director position,” the suit states. “Garrett is essentially computer illiterate. In this day and age of technology, this severely hampered Garrett’s ability to do the job.”
Garrett also suffered from significant memory problems and had trouble remembering key facts, the suit alleges.
As a result of his alleged shortcomings, Garrett began “pushing off his job responsibilities onto the female employees in the athletic department, increasing their workload, but not their compensation,” according to the suit.
In her declaration, Hudson lists examples of sexual harassment complaints by others that she alleges were not properly investigated. She cites the case of a female track athlete who claimed she was kicked off the team because she knew her coach was having a sexual relationship with another woman athlete sometime between 2004-06.
“The athlete told me that she complained to the assistant track coach about the fact that he was giving that student-athlete preferential treatment because of their sexual relationship,” Hudson says.
Hudson says she reported the athlete’s accusation to the head track coach, and he told her that the woman who complained would still not be reinstated on the team.
“The complaint was never investigated,” Hudson says.
Hudson further says that in a track meet in Kansas in 2006, the head track coach woke her up in the middle of the night to tell her she needed to go with him to pick up a female athlete who was left stranded in a van on the side of the road after her assistant coach was arrested for driving with a suspended license.
“I drove the student-athlete back to the hotel where our team was staying,” according to Hudson. “I am not certain if any investigations were done. However, the male assistant coach was never disciplined.”
In 2007, a male former track member sent Hudson sexually graphic emails and gave copies of the correspondence to others in the Athletic Department, Hudson says. He also made frequent calls to her office from 2007-11, demanding to speak to her, according to Hudson.
She says the athletic director encouraged her to report the emails and calls to the campus police, but she never heard anything from them in response.
In December 2009, a female assistant track coach told Hudson that the head coach was having an affair with a female student-athlete, according to Hudson, who says she reported the woman’s allegation to the athletic director.
“The (assistant coach) was terminated from her employment with CSULA after her complaints…,” according to Hudson.
Hudson says she was pressured by a CSULA lawyer to agree to testify that the female assistant coach was fired for NCAA violations and not in retaliation for coming forward with her complaint about the alleged conduct of the head track coach with the student-athlete. Hudson says that in response, she filed internal complaints with the university alleging sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation.
“Each time that a complaint of sexual harassment or discrimination is filed with the Athletics Department… an investigation file should have been created containing the complaint and all investigation-related documents,” according to Hudson.
Ogletree Deakins, a law firm representing CSULA, previously issued a statement regarding Hudson’s lawsuit.
“This malicious complaint is a reckless compilation of exaggerations and fabrications,” the statement read. “It is without substance and will be repudiated by facts. Women hold most of Cal State L.A.’s top leadership positions.”
Garrett, who won the Heisman Trophy as a USC running back in 1965, played eight seasons in the NFL and was USC’s athletic director from 1993-2010.
— City News Service
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