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Montana St. Settles Coaches Case

November 22, 2001

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) _ Montana State will pay two former women’s basketball coaches $225,000 to settle wrongful firing lawsuits, the school said Wednesday.

Tracey Sheehan and assistant Jeff Malby were fired in November 1999 after being accused of mistreating athletes and violating NCAA rules.

The agreement resolves two lawsuits filed in federal court in 2000 and related administrative discrimination claims filed with the Montana Human Rights Division. Sheehan and Malby alleged wrongful discharge as well as gender discrimination in pay and overall operation of the MSU women’s basketball program.

An expert hired by Malby and Sheehan valued their damages at $1 million each.

University officials said the lump-sum payment of $225,000 will be divided among Sheehan, Malby and their attorney, Mike Meloy of Helena.

Meloy said his clients believe the settlement vindicates them, adding, ``$225,000 is a significant admission, in my book.″

Leslie Taylor, MSU’s legal counsel, said the university was facing the possibility of a three-week trial in federal court and a subsequent administrative hearing before the Montana Human Rights hearing examiner.

``In light of the substantial costs that would have been expended in litigating this matter, and additional costs that would have been necessary to obtain a final resolution, the university agreed to settlement,″ Taylor said.

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