LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – A former high-ranking University of Louisville athletics official has filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the university, claiming she was let go earlier this year because of her health issues and reporting “wrongful conduct.”
Kimberly Maffet, associate athletics director for human resources, was laid off in February along with Mark Jurich, the son of former longtime athletics director Tom Jurich, and Julianne Waldron, associate athletics director for marketing.
At the time, the university said the moves were done as part of restructuring the department to save money and reorganize staff responsibilities.
But a lawsuit filed on behalf of Maffet in Jefferson Circuit Court this week claims she was retaliated against in part because she learned a U of L coach (described only as “Coach 3”) “was having an affair with a co-employee,” violating the university’s sexual harassment policy.
Maffet claims her attempts to report the violation “were rebuffed” and other employees “attempted to hide” the information.
The lawsuit also alleges Maffet told the university about another coach, “Coach 4,” verbally abusing employees.
The suit also raises concerns about “a coach’s unused University office reserved for his private Foundation.”
Maffet described the athletics department as having a “culture of misogynism, sexism, lying, cover-up, and bullying in the Athletic Department,” according to the suit.
In addition, Maffet claims the university violated its nepotism policy in new hires for the football program “who were not qualified.”
And Maffet alleges she tried to stop U of L from hiring Jordan Fair as an assistant for the men’s basketball team because he refused for months to show the university his driver’s license, even though part of his job was driving recruits around.
Fair has been reported to be “Coach-1,” who took part in a plan to funnel $100,000 from the Adidas apparel company to the family of a sought-after recruit last summer, according to federal documents in the FBI’s college basketball investigation. Fair was fired last October.
The suit also says Maffet voiced her disapproval of the school’s “history of failing to follow the Open Records Act and lack of transparency,”
Maffet also claims that Mary Elizabeth Miles, the school's director of employee relations and talent management, maintained a "firing jar" where she would force at weekly employees to put in the name of a university employee they would like to see fired. When one employee told Miles she felt "uncomfortable" doing this, the employee was told if she didn't, her name would be placed in the jar, according to the suit.
The suit alleges Maffet's name was included in the jar because she reported wrongful conduct.
Athletics director Vince Trya, who was hired permanently to replace Tom Jurich in March, is accused in the lawsuit of firing Maffet, in part, because she had medical issues that caused her to be hospitalized and miss work.
While Maffet said she continued to do her job well and work more than 50 hours a week, Tyra “showed a total lack of compassion and anger” about Maffet’s health issues and “often made snide comments” expressing his “increasing irritation and annoyance at her needed accommodations to her schedule,” according to the suit.
Tyra did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment. John Karman, a university spokesman, said the school has received the lawsuit but has not had a chance to review it and could not comment.
At the time of the firings, Tyra said his rethinking of the athletic association’s structure was prompted by the retirement of Kevin Miller, the department’s longtime operations chief, and the resignation of Christine Simatacolos, senior associate athletics director for student life.
“It creates an opportunity for me to look at the needs of the department and how we can be more efficient with the senior staff,” Tyra said in February.
He said the athletics association will still have people in charge of fundraising, human resources and marketing, but the responsibilities may be combined with other senior roles in a new structure which hasn’t been finalized.
“We are splicing positions and creating some new ones,” Tyra said.
The lawsuit is seeking a jury trial and unspecified monetary damages.
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