Former UMD track coaches files lawsuits against university, Board of Regents

ST. PAUL, MN – In two separate lawsuits filed this week, former UMD women’s cross country and track and field coach Joanna Warmington says the university allegedly defamed her and violated her due process rights.

Warmington served as women’s cross country and track and field coach for 10 years.

She announced her resignation in August 2018 alleging NCAA and Title IX violations by the school.

The suits filed in state and federal court allege UMD defamed Warmington by publicly disclosing the investigation conducted by the University in the aftermath of placing her on leave.

They also claim the creation of a hostile work environment, violation of the equal pay act and discrimination.

Warmington released a statement via her attorney, McGraw Law Firm:

“UMD administration could have simply chosen to not renew my contract. Instead, they chose to defame me and violate my due process rights in order to punish me for my knowledge of NCAA violations and raising with them the inequity of how my program and athletes were treated. They then tried to silence me with the threat that the investigation’s findings would be publicly released if I did not sign a confidential settlement agreement – where they would coopt me to agree to waive my rights to bring future claims. I am not scared of what they will say about me – for both they and I know the truth.”

In both lawsuits, Warmington is seeking back pay, front pay, damages for emotional distress and compensatory damages along with attorneys’ fees and costs.

Both lawsuits also demand a jury trial.

A UMD spokesperson said Wednesday evening, “Ms. Warmington initially filed her claims with the U.S. Equal Opportunity and Employment Commission (EEOC) and cross-filed with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR). On September 6, 2019 the EEOC dismissed her claims and determined that based upon the information it obtained, it was unable to find any legal violations.  Three days later the MDHR adopted the EEOC’s disposition of her claims and the MDHR likewise dismissed her charges.  We believe her court actions will also be unsuccessful. The well-being of our student-athletes has been our paramount concern and we are disappointed that she has made negative public comments about individuals involved who were looking out for the students’ well-being.”

 

According to a report obtained by the Duluth News Tribune in 2018, Joanna Warmington had displayed a “pattern of sexual misconduct” before she resigned.

The report claimed an investigation by the EOAA, found that Warmington “engaged in sexual harassment in violation of university policy.”

Complaints ranged from alleging Warmington told an athlete she had “beautiful legs”, to Warmington sending an “inspirational” text message that included a picture of Warmington in a running bra.

In June 2019, a former UMD All-American Track and Cross Country athlete sued the school, claiming the university violated her rights by retaliating and discriminating against her while she supported Warmington.

Paige DuBois, 21, alleged she was treated differently from other athletes and denied an opportunity to redshirt after she expressed support for her former coach.

This is a developing story. Check back for more details.

If you’re viewing this story on our mobile app, click the links below to read the complaints.

State Complaint
Federal Complaint

Kevin Jacobsen

Kevin Jacobsen

News Director
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