On August 26, Beth Burns — San Diego State University's longtime women's basketball head coach who is suing the university for wrongful termination — will get her day in a different type of court than she is used to: San Diego Superior Court.
A judge will begin the civil trial in Burn's 2014 lawsuit against San Diego State University. In her complaint, Burns, who coached the women's basketball team for 16 seasons and is the winningest coach in San Diego State history, claimed the university forced her resignation less than a year after leading the Aztecs to a school-record 27-win season.
Burns claimed the university fired her in retaliation for her insistent demands that the women's program be given the same treatment as the men's basketball program.
In her complaint, Burns says soon-to-be former athletic director Jim Sterk (who on August 16 accepted a job at the University of Missouri) gave Burns an ultimatum: quit, retire, or be terminated. According to Burns's complaint, Sterk alleged Burns slapped assistant head coach Adam Barrett with her clipboard and elbowed him in the shoulder during a 2013 game against Colorado State, as reported by the Union-Tribune.
"In a feeble attempt to cover up the real reason for firing her," reads the February 2014 lawsuit, "SDSU fabricated a pretextual explanation for her termination that was intentionally and devastatingly harmful to her. As a result, Burns has not yet been able to secure another coaching position, despite her incredible record of success." (Burns is now the assistant head coach at the University of Southern California).
Burns's complaint states the real reason that university administrators forced her out was because she refused to live with what she considered a double standard between the men and women's basketball programs.
"...[Burns] had to fight a dysfunctional athletics administration that prioritized men's sports over women's basketball.... The athletics directors focused their time, efforts, and priorities on football and men's basketball, to the detriment of women's athletics. Coach Burns refused to remain silent in the face of the inequities she witnessed."
Her refusal to stand on the sidelines put her at odds with staffers and the numerous athletic directors who worked at the university before Sterk took over.
This Friday (August 19), attorneys for both sides will appear for a trial readiness conference before judge Judith Hayes. On Friday, August 26, the trial will begin at 9 a.m.