Stanley Told Former Assistant to Have Abortion

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Former Cal women's basketball coach Marianne Stanley told a newly hired assistant to either have an abortion or quit, causing a pregnancy discrimination lawsuit, the Washington Post reported yesterday.

The incident occurred in 1998, midway through Stanley's four-year tenure at Cal.



Sharrona Alexander, the plaintiff in the lawsuit, testified in court that Stanley pressured her to have an abortion, and demanded her resignation when she refused.

Alexander, then an assistant at Troy State, was hired in June 1998, and informed Stanley of her pregnancy after arriving in Berkeley, but before signing her contract, the Post reported.

Alexander testified that Stanley was initially supportive of her situation and even offered to babysit the child. During dinner at Stanley's house, she testified she was "trying not to throw up all over the table," when she heard of Alexander's pregnancy. Alexander signed her contract June 25.

Stanley and Alexander both testified that in a meeting later that week, Stanley told Alexander she could not perform the job if she continued her pregnancy.

Alexander testified that Stanley offered to pay for an abortion. She testified that she informed Stanley of the decision to keep the child July 7, when the coaching staff was on a recruiting trip in Chicago.

That evening, Stanley had a meeting with Alexander in the restaurant of the hotel they were staying in and demanded Alexander return all items issued to her by the university, along with a letter of resignation.

Without receiving the letter, Stanley continued on the recruiting trip, leaving Alexander at the hotel.

After coming under pressure from university administrators, Stanley drove to Michigan City, Ind. July 10 to meet with Alexander and offered her the job back. The two, however, did not come to an agreement and Alexander did not come back to Berkeley with the staff.

Alexander filed her lawsuit at the Alameda County Superior Court January 25, 1999.

State and federal laws prohibit the firing of employees due to pregnancy.

Stanley told the Post she was concerned for Alexander's health, given the travelling demands of her job. She also denied offering to pay for and scheduling her abortion, contradicting Alexander's testimony.

In her deposition, Stanley testified that Alexander's condition would prevent her from fulfilling the travel requirements of recruiting and the physical strain of conducting practice.

"That's a personal decision . . . and I respected that whatever she decided," Stanley testified. "But . . . if she was going to continue with the pregnancy, (then) I was going to have to find someone else who was going to be able to do the job."

According to the Post, the university paid Alexander $115,000 to settle the suit out of court in October 2000.

Alexander gave birth to a son in May 2000 and now lives in Nashville, Tenn. with her husband and two children. She no longer coaches basketball.

Stanley's contract was bought out by the university at the end of the 1999-2000 season. She owns a 35-75 record at Cal.

Stanley is now the head coach of the WNBA's Washington Mystics and was named the league's coach of the year this summer.


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