Volume 3, Issue 2 University of Houston
Athletics director stands behind hiring record in face
By Ken Fountain
A former UH associate athletic director has filed a lawsuit in federal court, claiming he was dismissed after opposing what he claims were racially discriminatory comments and hiring practices by Athletics Director Chet Gladchuk, including a statement that he "would never hire a black head football coach."
In the suit, filed in Houston on Dec. 14, Christopher Bahl alleges Gladchuk asked him to recommend candidates for the head football coach position when it was vacant late last year.
Bahl claims he recommended three highly qualified African-American coaches: Turner Gill, Tony Samuel and Ron Brown. But after receiving the recommendations, Bahl said Gladchuk asked whether Samuel and Brown were African-American.
When Bahl said they were, the athletics director allegedly told him he would not hire a black head football coach.
The suit claims Bahl asked Gladchuk whether he was joking because such a position would be "immoral, unethical and illegal. To Bahl's surprise, Gladchuk confirmed that he was not joking at all."
It goes on to say that, after Bahl opposed the alleged discrimination, Gladchuk began undermining his work. Bahl claims he decided to resign and told Gladchuk he would report the racial statements to UH President Arthur K. Smith.
"Gladchuk, however, told Bahl no one would believe him, that it was just Bahl's word against Gladchuk's, that the president had always supported Gladchuk no matter what he had done, and that the president would continue to do so," the suit says.
Then, despite Bahl's resignation, the suit alleges Gladchuk dismissed him on or about June 6 of this year.
Although Gladchuk told Breaking News he could not discuss specifics of the suit, he did comment on his hiring record throughout his career.
The lawsuit is "clearly not reflecting of what we've been involved with (at UH)," Gladchuk said, adding that he thought there was some "frivolous activity" involved in filing the suit.
"I'll match my record for diversity against any other athletic director in the United States over the 28 years of my career," he said. "The truth is I have an impeccable record."
Gladchuk said when he was athletics director at Tulane University in New Orleans, he hired the first black head coach -- in basketball -- in the school's history. He also hired Boston College's first black head coach, also in basketball.
At UH, three of the six head coaches Gladchuk has hired are black. He pointed out the entire Athletics staff, from coaches to groundskeepers, shows a high level of diversity.
Bahl now lives in Omaha, Neb. Joseph Ahmad of the Houston law firm Ahmad,
Zavitsanos & Anaipakos, which specializes in employment discrimination
cases, filed the suit.
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