A MAN’S JOB?

By Staff

Athletic Management, 17.6, October/November 2005, http://www.momentummedia.com/articles/am/am1706/wumansjob.htm

When Boston College assistant women’s ice hockey coach Michael Cox applied for one of two assistant coaching positions with the newly created Boston University team, he thought he had all the right qualifications. With over a decade of experience coaching girls and women, including a national championship team, he was surprised when two other applicants beat him out.

When he learned both positions were awarded to females, he was more than surprised—he was angry. He felt that his gender had kept him from getting the job.

According to his attorney, Harold Lichten, Cox has been an assistant women’s ice hockey coach at Harvard, Northeastern, and Boston College, and has been looking to move up the coaching ladder with an eye toward becoming a head coach. “He’s noticed that, not only at Boston University but also at other places he’s applied to, there’s a reverse glass ceiling,” Lichten says. “If you’re a man trying to coach a women’s college hockey team, there may be a strike or two against you. In some cases he’s noticed that the women who have been hired instead of him are a year or two out of school and none of them have the long list of qualifications he has.”

Cox and Lichten point to Boston University Head Coach Brian Durocher’s own words as evidence of discrimination. Before making a hiring decision Durocher e-mailed Cox: “Between us, I feel a slight amount of pressure to strongly consider two females. I wish I could say different but I would rather put my cards on the table than leave you in the dark. I am not closing the door and people like you always make things difficult.”

It’s not unusual for administrators to want at least one member of the coaching staff be the same sex as the players, but the law says that desire could be discriminatory. According to Martin Katz, Assistant Professor at the University of Denver College of Law, “The general principle is you’re not supposed to make hiring decisions based on sex. The Civil Rights Act of 1991 suggests that it cannot even be a factor.”