Associational Discrimination Case Allowed to Proceed

The men's basketball team at Iona College in New Rochelle, N.Y., wasn't doing as well as it had in the past. Finding that the coaching staff was to blame, the school fired two of the four coaches.

Assistant Head Coach Craig Holcomb, a white man married to a black woman, was one of two people fired during the 2004 staffing shake up. The other fired employee was the only black assistant coach--Tony Chiles. The two coaches kept on the staff were white--Head Coach Jeff Ruland and Assistant Coach
Rob O'Driscoll.

The college maintained the decision to fire Holcomb was not based on racial factors, but instead on the need to improve the basketball team's poor performance by upgrading the coaching staff. Even though Holcomb and the only black member of the coaching staff were fired, the college said one of the new coaches hired was black, and Ruland, one of the white coaches not fired, was dating a black woman.

The 2nd Circuit ruled that hiring a black coach could have been an action by the college to conceal its prior discrimination. Also, firing Ruland would have been too expensive an option given his current contract with the college.

Extended Application

The court said that while Holcomb showed little evidence that he was terminated solely because his wife was black, he only needs to prove that the decision was partly based on racial discrimination and the case should be allowed to go before a jury.

Managing Editor

Yesenia Salcedo

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