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Former basketball coach sues university for breach of contract

When an employee excels at a job in Chaska, Minnesota, he or she is typically rewarded with recognition, raises and other perks. However, for one employee of a University, doing well at her job could not prevent her from being fired.

The woman is Beth Burns and was the head coach for women’s basketball at San Diego State University. During her time as coach, Burns helped her team win six conference championships and four league tournament titles during the regular season. She also led the team to participate in seven NCAA tournaments and even coached them to the Sweet 16 in 2010. Her coaching was recognized by the Mountain West Conference during the last two years she led the team; they named her Coach of the Year both years.

Despite her excellent track record, Burns says she was wrongly terminated as retaliation for her complaints about the preferential treatment the men’s basketball program enjoyed. She said that the women’s team did not have the same housing, equipment and facility benefits as the men’s team.

The university says they fired Burns for an incident where she allegedly hit the assistant coach during a game. Although Burns maintains that she did not hit the coach, she chose to retire when she felt pressure by the University to do so in order to keep her pension.

Burns has filed a lawsuit against the university in which she blames them for breach of contract. The suit claims that she has lost $880,000 in earnings and her eligibility for employment elsewhere has been compromised due to her professional reputation being damaged.

Source: NBC San Diego “Ex-Basketball Coach Beth Burns Files Wrongful Termination Lawsuit,” R. Stickney, Feb. 19, 2014

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