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Women’s Olympic Basketball Coach Accused of Discrimination

USA Olympic Basketball – A lawsuit filed earlier this week is set to put American basketball on trial. Kelley Hardwick, 46, filed an employment discrimination lawsuit on Monday at the New York Supreme Court in Manhattan, claiming U.S. women’s head basketball coach Geno Auriemma made demands leading to her being removed from her position as a security director for the team for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, after she refused his sexual advances.

According to the suit, during a 2009 trip to Russia with the women’s senior national team, Auriemma followed Hardwick to her hotel room, grabbed her arm and tried to kiss her. Hardwick immediately denied Auriemma’s attempts, allegedly yelling “You better check yourself before you get hurt!”

“After being rebuffed (Auriemma) red-faced, turned and walked quickly back in the direction of the elevators,” the lawsuit went on to say. From that point Hardwick claims, Auriemma began to “act vindictively towards her” and demanded that the National Basketball Association terminate her travel assignments with the women’s team. In March, the NBA told her she would not be joining the women’s national team at the Olympics.

“Having received no prior complaints regarding performance of her (USA Basketball) related duties, (Hardwick) was convinced … Auriemma had exercised his influence through USAB and the NBA to retaliate against her for rejecting his prior sexual advance and causing him embarrassment and discomfort with her continued presence,” the lawsuit contends.

Auriemma, who also serves as the head coach of the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team, has called the allegations “beyond false,” but also told The New York Times that before seeing media reports he had been “unaware of this lawsuit.” No further statement has been put forth by Auriemma or the University of Connecticut.

The lawsuit also names both the NBA and USA Basketball, accusing the organizations of denying Hardwick promotions and raises based on her gender. Ron Howard, a spokesman for the Women’s National Basketball Association, said his office does “not comment on pending legal matters.”

Auriemma has been the head coach of the U.S. women’s national team since 2009, having earned a gold medal as an assistant coach in 2000.

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