HATTIESBURG — Three former soccer coaches at the University of Southern Mississippi have been awarded nearly $1.2 million in damages stemming from their firings.
Former head coach John Vincent and two assistants, John Mollaghan and Ged O’Connor, sued in November 2000, claiming sexual harassment, sexual discrimination and lack of due process.
The lawsuit named the university, former USM president Horace Fleming and two current athletic department employees, athletic director Richard Giannini and senior women’s administrator Sonya Varnell, as defendants.
The actions that prompted the lawsuit occurred between Dec. 15, 1999, and July 2000, plaintiff attorney Kim Chaze said.
A state court jury on Friday awarded Vincent $500,000; Mollaghan $376,000; and O’Connor $300,000.
University counsel Lee Gore said USM would be filing motions to set aside the verdict. “We were absolutely shocked at the verdict,” he said.
Vincent said Varnell fabricated statements against him from student-athletes and further undermined his position by traveling with the team. Vincent also said he was denied due process through the university’s appeal process after he was fired in June 2000.