COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA — South Carolina State women’s basketball coach Audra Smith was fired Thursday, a day after she sued the school in federal court alleging Title IX violations and discriminatory practices at the university.
Smith had led the women’s team the past four seasons when she was fired. She filed a lawsuit in response to a Freedom of Information Act request in January seeking documentation showing that South Carolina State gave more resources to male athletes, coaches and teams than to its female programs, players and coaches.
Smith alleges she was paid nearly $30,000 less than the South Carolina State men’s basketball coach when she was hired. Throughout her stay, Smith was provided fewer resources than the male program at the historically black university.
Visiting men’s teams changed in the women’s locker room, the suit said, while opponents for women’s matches were not allowed to use the men’s locker room in the arena.
Smith said in the lawsuit that she was suspended for three games earlier this month when a school representative asked her to get the parents of one of her players — who were in attendance for her daughter’s senior night — to move from the court level to their assigned seats.
Smith stated in the lawsuit that he believed the suspension was issued because of his inquiries into the school’s practices.
Smith’s attorney, Samantha Albrecht, said Friday that the lawsuit seeks to improve the treatment of female athletes and coaches at South Carolina State and has the goal “of redressing professional injustices done against our named client for years of being disadvantaged by systemic discrimination.” based on gender.
On Thursday, the school fired Smith, who had another year remaining on his contract. Smith is 24-73 in four seasons and 4-21 this year.
“We would like to thank Coach Smith for her dedication to our student-athletes and for the effort she has put into the women’s basketball program,” athletic director Stacy Danley said in a statement Thursday.
University spokesman Sam Watson said in an email to The Associated Press that the school “cannot comment on current or pending lawsuits.”
Another of Smith’s attorneys, Paul Porter, said the firing was “unlawful, vindictive, and invites further legal action.”
The lawsuit seeks an undisclosed amount of money damages.
Smith has been a coach for 18 seasons, spending nine years at UAB and five seasons at Clemson before taking the reins of the Lady Bulldogs program.
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SC State fires coach a day after her lawsuit