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Coach Lisa Howe: Forced Out Because she was Gay?
Coach Lisa Howe: Forced Out Because she was Gay? | Lisa Howe, Belmont University, Gay Discrimination

Soccer News: Belmont Coach Resigns Upon Lesbian Disclosure

Soccer Players Say Lisa Howe Was Forced to Resign Because She and Her Same-Sex Partner Were Having Baby.  Now Randy Davis, Baptist Convention Director has come out in supports of Belmont University and disagrees that gays are protected from discrimination. 

Belmont University women's Head Coach Lisa Howe, is without a job today, and everyone is asking (NY Times, CBS Sports, the students...) is the reason because she is gay?  Howe was in her 5th year with the university.

Belmont University issued a release Thursday night with Athletics Director Mike Strickland stating that Howe decided to resign on her own without offering further explanation.  Sounds fishy.

Lisa Howe joined in the spring of 2005 and according to the college’s website, “In a mere three seasons, she has rebuilt Belmont's program and has helped it become a feared contender not just in the Atlantic Sun but in the region as well.”

Howe’s bio continues with “In 2007, the Bruins defied the odds and became the Cinderella story of the A-Sun. After being chosen to finish eighth in the preseason coaches poll, Belmont went on to record the most league wins in its 10-year history (6) and finished the regular season in fourth place, the team's best finish to date.”

Ok, does this sound like someone who was fired because they were a bad coach?

According to reports, several members of the soccer team say Howe told them she was pressured into resigning after telling school administrators and the team she and her same-sex partner were having a baby. Howe, who has been at Belmont six seasons, informed the team Thursday that she had resigned. She could not be reached for comment but is quoted in the release as saying, "I am at a point in my life where I am satisfied to move on."

The Associated Press reports that Belmont University soccer players say their coach was forced to resign because she told them that she and her same-sex partner were having a baby.

Erica Carter, a senior on the team, said Howe told her and her roommate that officials had given her the choice to resign or be terminated because she had told the team her partner was pregnant with a baby due in May. "She said she went to the administration to get permission to talk to us about (the pregnancy) so that she could bring us to light on her becoming a mother," Carter told the newspaper. "She didn't want us to hear it from other sources." According to Carter, Howe said administrators did not immediately give her permission to talk to the team about the issue. 

Randy Davis, Baptist Convention Director has come out in supports of Belmont University. Davis would disagree that gays are protected from discrimination. The executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Convention is quoted as saying "I think they have taken a very strong biblical stance, true to their own heritage, true to their own mission statement." He said he would also disagree with any lawmakers who might try to create a state law protecting gay men and women from being discriminated against for their sexual orientation.  For more on this from WSMVplease click here

"Sexual orientation, for many people, we believe, is a choice," said Davis. "The color of your skin is not a choice. So I think that would be a step in the wrong direction." Isn't this 2010?

Howe's playing career is highly acclaimed; she helped lead Barry University to four consecutive bids to the NCAA Soccer Tournament including three Final Four appearances, highlighted by a Division II National Championship in 1989. A 1991 graduate of Barry University, Howe has a degree in Sports Management and received her MBA in management from Jacksonville State in 2002.

Howe has been quoted as saying, “I respectfully ask members of the media to turn their attention away from me and toward the broader issues at stake that affect so many people in the Belmont community–such as what it means to be a diverse Christian community and how we can support and respect each other despite our differences. I refer you to my attorney, Abby Rubenfeld, from here in Nashville who is a pioneer in this field, and to the organizations who share my belief that understanding is a Christian value and a most worthwhile and needed goal.”

Sounds like a great idea, after, of course, the initial outrage is expressed and we think about the choices we make in everyday life and how we all need to be tolerant of other people's' personal choices that may not be the same as our own.  Then Randy Davis spoke out today in favor of discriminating and some how made 'choice' a bad word. 

Belmont University sent the following e-mail to alumni on Thursday:

Dear Alumni,

Belmont University has been the subject of a great deal of media and community attention in the past week focused on the university’s employment practices. Like any responsible organization, Belmont does not comment on personnel matters. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to visit to view first hand Dr. Fisher’s recent statement to the media in response to this recent attention.

Because of Belmont’s aspirations to demonstrate Christian character, the University is a safe and welcoming place for everyone. The Belmont family, like any large family, is comprised of a rich and diverse mix of people. Within our student community there are many gay and lesbian students as well as gay and lesbian faculty and staff. Sexual orientation is not considered in making hiring, promotion, salary, or dismissal decisions at Belmont. Sexual orientation is also not a consideration in student admissions.

Last spring, as an alternative to creating a student-led organization, the university initiated a conversation about gay and lesbian issues and the Christian faith. This group has met twice monthly since then, and all in the Belmont community are welcome to participate.

Belmont is committed to working with faculty, students, alumni, board members and the community-at-large to dialogue about our policies and practices to ensure that our actions are consistent with our values and to ensure that our campus remains a welcoming place for all.

As members of the Belmont family, we are grateful for your presence in our community, and we value your support.


Debbie Coppinger Sr. Director, Alumni Relations Belmont University


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