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Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Ex-Miami coach sues school for discrimination

Associated Press

MIAMI -- Former Miami women's basketball coach Ferne Labati filed a lawsuit Tuesday alleging that age and gender discrimination contributed to her dismissal in March.

Labati, 60, seeks punitive damages and reinstatement in the suit filed in circuit court in Miami-Dade County. Her successor is former Charlotte coach Katie Meier, who was 37 when hired in April.

Athletic director Paul Dee said he hadn't seen Labati's complaint.

"Upon receipt and review by legal counsel, we will have a response," Dee said.

Labati went 303-195 in 17 seasons at Miami and reached the NCAA Tournament six times. She was fired 11 months after being inducted into the school's Sports Hall of Fame, and three weeks after the Hurricanes completed a 13-16 season, their first losing record in four years.

Labati went 71-45 in her final four seasons before being fired, her complaint noted. According to the suit, all of the candidates hired to replace her were 44 years old or younger, and Miami declined to interview longtime Florida International coach Cindy Russo, 52.

The suit said the school retained women's soccer coach Tricia Taliaferro, 32, after her team went 3-13 last year and 8-11-1 in 2005.

The suit also alleges gender discrimination, noting that the men's basketball program endured consecutive losing seasons before coach Perry Clark was fired in 2004.