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News Clips 01/18/2013
FAMU's Brown to be dismissed
Source: Tallahassee Democrat, 01/17/13
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By St. Clair Murraine
FAMU has informed baseball coach Willie Brown he will be fired, following allegations of sexual harassment by a walk-on infielder that he cut from the baseball team twice.
Brown was notified of the university’s decision in a letter dated Monday, Jan. 14, and signed by interim president Larry Robinson.
The letter was provided to the Democrat on Wednesday by Brown’s attorney, Steven Andrews, who received it a day earlier.
Andrews also released to the Democrat a letter he sent to FAMU on Wednesday requesting a hearing for Brown to state his case.
Andrews said he won’t attempt to have Brown reinstated as coach, but he wants his client’s name cleared. Andrews said he intends to take the case to court if needed.
Brown remains on administrative leave with pay pending a final written decision from the university.
“An investigation has been concluded by the office of Equal Opportunity Program pursuant to a complaint that was filed against you alleging sexual harassment,” Robinson wrote to Brown.
“You were found to be in violation of Florida A&M Board of Trustee regulation. Based upon the foregoing, it is Florida A&M University’s intentions to dismiss you from employment as appropriate.”
The Rattlers open the 2013 season on Feb. 15 in a three-game series at Troy University.
Brown’s assistant Kevin Clethen has been running the day-to-day operations of the program. Athletic Director Derek Horne issued a statement Wednesday saying that Clethen has not been elevated to interim coach.
As it has done since the investigation started more than one month ago, FAMU declined a request from the Democrat for information on the case. It cited a state statute that prohibits granting the request until the case in completed.
Brown, whose annual contract with a salary of $60,000 runs through July, has been on administrative leave since December. The decision to fire him came after the university concluded an investigation that included witness statements from 24 players.
At least half of those players also signed sworn statements for Andrews in December and said they hadn’t witnessed any of the allegations that were filed on Nov. 20 by infielder Vanard Williams II.
“It’s unfair,” Andrews said. “It’s unwarranted and by their own report, it’s unproven. We are going to fight it. In front of an independent, unbiased tribunal, it’s a battle that we can win. Sure.”
Brown, who coached at Maclay before accepting the FAMU job, would have been in his second season at his alma mater. Andrews called the allegations “defamatory.”
“This is a guy who had a perfectly clean record at Maclay for 13 years,” Andrews said. “He’s gotten support from people that he’s coached (and) parents.”
According to witness statements, the players in most cases said they didn’t recall the allegations happening. Several of them said they heard only part of what Brown said in those situations and added that his statements might not have been directed to Williams.
In some cases, witnesses reported hearing comments but said they thought Brown was trying to be funny. Williams’ allegations are lengthy, but players were asked about eight of them. The questions ranged from whether they ever heard Brown using foul language to if they heard Brown tell Williams he would dress him in a bra and panties.
“It places every NCAA coach in a position of having to worry about their jobs because a student player’s mother is unhappy with their playing time,” Andrews said.
“Any coach in America could be subject to this. It was a cowardly act by FAMU.”