Soccer Lawsuit Against Dorrance, UNC Dismissed

A U.S. District Court judge has granted summary judgment in favor of UNC women’s soccer Coach Anson Dorrance ’74 and other University defendants in a sexual harassment lawsuit filed six years ago by two UNC women soccer players.

One part of the lawsuit was resolved between Dorrance and one of the plaintiffs in March, when the University agreed to pay $70,000 to former soccer player Debbie Keller ’96 in exchange for her agreement to drop her sexual harassment claims against Dorrance. Dorrance was required to apologize to Keller and to take part in annual sensitivity programs for the next eight years. If he fails to complete the training in any of the eight years, he must pay Keller an additional $10,000.

A second part of the lawsuit, scheduled to go to trial in October in Greensboro, involved claims by former player Melissa Jennings ’00. Judge N. Carlton Tilley Jr. made the ruling Wednesday in the suit that also had named assistant coaches and other UNC officials. Jennings’ father told The News & Observer that he would discuss a possible appeal with his daughter and his lawyer.

Jennings had alleged in the $12 million suit that Dorrance reimbursed team members for alcohol purchased for her during a recruiting trip. She also claimed Dorrance used his position to intimidate players into sharing intimate details of their personal lives. Jennings was dismissed from the team by Dorrance in 1998.

Dorrance, the architect of the most successful varsity program in the NCAA’s top division in any sport, said, “I am thankful the court has ruled to dismiss the case. I appreciate the support so many people, including the University, my players and family, gave me throughout this entire process. So many of the comments that were attributed to me were simply not true. I apologized before for making some inappropriate comments, but none of them reached the levels that were claimed in this case. I’m glad we can all move forward and I can concentrate on my family and my team.”

Athletics Director Dick Baddour ’66 said, “We are pleased the court found that there was no merit for the case to continue. We support Anson and believe in his leadership of our women’s soccer program.”

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