Staff Editorial: Sex, sports and bias

Former head athletic trainer Jacquelyn Jenkins filed suit against GW and Athletic Director Jack Kvancz last May for sexual discrimination. According to court documents obtained by The Hatchet, Jenkins alleges Kvancz specifically prohibited her from working with the men’s basketball team solely because she is a woman. If the allegations are true, GW and Kvancz owe Jenkins an apology and a great deal of money. Such conduct is absolutely unacceptable.

Jenkins worked as an assistant athletic trainer from 1993 to 1999 when she was promoted. Her predecessor as head athletic trainer, Beverly Westerman, held the job for 10 years and worked with the men’s basketball team the entire time. Tellingly, Westerman left the job to become a professor at GW’s School of Public Health and Health Services citing “conflicts with the new basketball coach, Tom Penders,” according to court documents.

Kvancz allegedly told Jenkins when she was hired for the top job that she would not work with the men’s basketball team because men feel more comfortable talking with men about their injuries, but Westerman’s long tenure treating male players’ injuries makes Kvancz’s alleged actions that much more ridiculous. After limiting Jenkins’ assignments, Kvancz chose then-assistant athletic trainer Chris Hennelly to treat the men’s basketball team, an unusual move considering the head athletic trainer normally assigns his or her staff to the various teams. Hennelly became the head athletic trainer once Jenkins resigned in April 2000.

Jenkins’ alleged treatment by Kvancz – if proven true – is despicable, and Penders’ involvement in the situation is disturbing. In this era of expanding equality, such blatant discrimination as the conduct Jenkins describes should never occur, and certainly not in a university’s athletic program. Sadly ironic is the fact that these allegations have surfaced nearly 30 years after Title IX, the groundbreaking law that ended discrimination in education because of sex. One would expect a university and its officials to avoid discriminatory policies because of Title IX and other civil rights laws, but also because discrimination in any form is wrong.

Neither Kvancz nor GW’s lawyers have commented on the lawsuit despite ample opportunities to do so. Kvancz and the University owe the GW community a response and an explanation.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.