Coach James Finley

Just three days before Thanksgiving, one of the most loved and most successful coaches at Virginia Commonwealth University, Coach James Finley, was fired. After delivering a 25-6 winning season and graduating every one of his seniors, Coach Finley was unceremoniously shown the door — for no reason other than being unashamedly who he is…a gay man.
When letting the team know about the news, the Athletic Director who fired Coach Finley said that he wanted to find someone who “better represented VCU.” I have trouble believing that VCU could find a better representative than Coach Finley, who is reportedly a kind and generous man, and an excellent volleyball coach who turned a shambles of a team into the most successful volleyball program in 20 years at VCU.
Virginia, like 28 other states, has no non-discrimination protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) workers. That means that it’s completely legal in most places in this country to fire — or to not hire — LGBT folks. These kinds of homophobic decisions are made all over the country every day — but this time, we’re fighting back.
As a school built upon the values of inclusion and diversity, VCU has an opportunity to lead a national conversation to ensure that one’s work is judged solely by their success, not by their sexual orientation or gender identity. We urge you to overturn this decision and to welcome Coach Finley back on campus in time to usher our volleyball team into another winning season next year. Our university is better than this, our state is better than this, and our country is better than this. 
A petition has been formed by Camilla Lee Hill, Graduate Assistant for LGBT & Women’s Services at VCU, to Reinstate Coach Finley now!  Hill stated that:

My students are angry and scared by this decision, and I feel certain that VCU will lose students, staff, and faculty if this decision is not overturned. Furthermore, as the daughter of an openly gay Division I volleyball coach and as an openly gay Division I field hockey player myself, I’m shocked that Coach Finley has lost his job for the egregious offense of simply being himself.

The petition states:
Michael Rao, VCU President
Velma Jackson-Williams, Assistant Vice Provost and Director of EEO/AA Services 
Reinstate Coach Finley!
We’re asking you to reconsider the decision made by VCU’s Athletic Director to fire Coach Finley. As a school built upon the values of inclusion and diversity, VCU has an opportunity to lead a national conversation to ensure that one’s work is judged solely by their success, not by their sexual orientation or gender identity. We urge you to overturn this decision and to reinstate Coach Finley in time to usher our volleyball team into another winning season!

For more information, please check out these two stories:

ESPN W-Questions about VCU coach’s firing
Huff Post Sports-James Finley, Former VCU Volleyball Coach, Claims He Was Fired For Being Gay

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

5 responses to “Coach James Finley

  • SEAN

    Excellent post – I reblogged it with full credit. Thanks!

  • silvereagle

    Something does not add up here. The coach had been there for many years and did a great job by all accounts. Why does the issue of gay vs straight suddenly rise like the serpant from a wicker basket. Did somethingelse unreported take place? Did he (the coach) intentionally bring this about? I do not know. I do agree that if his sexual orientation was the sole reason for the dismissal, then he should be reinstated immeediately, but first I would want to learn all the facts.

  • Jay M.

    I live here. So I see the news as it happens, and know people allegedly "in the know". I'm not sure anyone is getting the whole story, but the reporting on the subject has, with the "official results of VCU's internal investigation" being the only exception, entirely sourced by Finley. Some things not usually seen in the gay news is that apparently he had very poor graduation rates though I don't know why that would be a firing offense, especially with no notice. Whether he was fired because he was gay or not is actually somewhat of a red herring. In reality, the laws need to be changed so that you can't be fired "just because". Because of these laws, it's unlikely that Finley will be reinstated unless Rao (who most certainly had to be in the know about this) acts. It's an unfortunate situation, which brings unwanted publicity to VCU and Virginia. It's interesting that sports coaches and assistants are fired regularly across the country, with and without specific reasons being given, and the only one that goes viral is the one where the coach is gay.This news report at least mentions other factors, but is also pretty clear that allegedly, Coach Finley's being gay was a contributing factor. <3Jay

  • JoeBlow

    Silvereagle, I agree that there seems to be a piece of the puzzle missing, but everything I read pointed to him being a good coach. He says that his graduation rate was 100 percent, he had a great season, so why fire him? You would think that if there was something sinister about the coach, he would not be bringing up that he was fired because he was gay. He would just go away quietly.Jay, I was hoping you would comment. Since you are up there, I wanted to hear your opinion on the matter.

Thank you for commenting. I always want to know what you have to say. However, I have a few rules: 1. Always be kind and considerate to others. 2. Do not degrade other people's way of thinking. 3. I have the right to refuse or remove any comment I deem inappropriate. 4. If you comment on a post that was published over 14 days ago, it will not post immediately. Those comments are set for moderation. If it doesn't break the above rules, it will post.

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