St. Joseph’s Fires Coach Gaitley
PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ St. Joseph’s women’s basketball coach Stephanie Gaitley, accused of retaliating against a former player who filed a sexual-harassment complaint against Gaitley’s husband, was fired Tuesday after 10 seasons.
``It finally got to the point where we needed to make the decision that we did,″ said Linda Lelii, vice president for student life and academic development.
Gaitley’s husband, Frank, a former assistant coach, was accused of sexually harassing a former player and Gaitley was accused of retaliating against the student after she complained.
Stephanie Gaitley took a paid leave of absence for the remainder of the season after the accusations surfaced in January. On Tuesday, university spokesman Joe Lunardi said, ``She was dismissed. The university made a decision to let her go.″
Gaitley held a news conference Tuesday where she reacted angrily to the firing.
``After 13 years of unwavering commitment and honesty, after graduating 100 percent of my players, after bringing nothing but accolades and admiration to this university, I was given only 16 1/2 hours to decide the fate of my career and the direction of my family’s life,″ Gaitley said, holding back tears.
``There is only one decision I could make. With my reputation, character and integrity both on a professional and personal level at stake, I would rather be fired knowing I did not compromise myself.″
Though it has been a difficult period for Gaitley, Lelii said, ``the university also has a responsibility to team members and those connected to the women’s basketball program to move beyond what has been an equally difficult time for them.″
Reggi Grennan, an assistant coach for nine seasons under Gaitley, coached the team after Gaitley was placed on leave. Athletic director Don DiJulia will lead a search for a new coach.
``Our decision is that a change in leadership is necessary for everyone involved,″ Lelii said.
Attorney Tom McGoldrick, representing the Gaitleys, did not return telephone calls Tuesday. McGoldrick has said each of the Gaitleys ``emphatically denies″ the accusations, and has declined to elaborate because the matter is in litigation.
Cheryl Kulesa, a former St. Joseph’s player, filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission in September accusing Frank Gaitley of sexually harassing her.
The complaint accuses Frank Gaitley of asking Kulesa for dates, making sexually suggestive remarks and telling her sexual jokes at practice, and sending her inappropriate notes, one written on school stationery.
Frank Gaitley resigned last May. Kulesa also accused Stephanie Gaitley of retaliating against her for going to school officials with her accusations.
The university has yet to appear before the commission in the case and its policy bars commenting on the pending matter, Lelii said.
Kulesa, of Clementon, N.J., would have been a senior this season but left the team for unspecified personal reasons.
She said in her complaint that she was undergoing psychological counseling, was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and panic attacks and was on medication.
St. Joe’s finished the season 15-13 after losing to Dayton 71-56 in the first round of the Atlantic 10 tournament.
Gaitley posted a 196-88 record at St. Joe’s, won two Atlantic 10 championships, seven Big Five titles and led the Hawks to five 20-win seasons and five appearances in the NCAA tournament.
Gaitley began her head coaching career at Richmond, where she compiled a 116-63 record in six seasons. She was an assistant at St. Joe’s from 1982-85. Her career record is 312-151.