Belmont University released a second statement late Friday afternoon regarding “the conclusion of Coach Lisa Howe’s employment at Belmont University.”
According to the statement, the university and Howe agree that she “did not ‘resign’ from her employment. Neither was she dismissed.”
The statement, released through Belmont communications director Greg Pillon, said the university wanted to address inaccuracies on the part of the media: “Both Coach Howe and the university wish to correct the errors and move forward without further media distraction.”
Howe was also quoted in the joint statement saying “I do want to express my deep gratitude to the players, their families, the alumnae and faculty members who have come forward to express their concern over my leaving. I want them to know that I am extremely proud to have had the opportunity to get to know and work with all of them.”
In a statement released Thursday night, Belmont Athletic Director Mike Strickland said that Howe had “informed the university of her intent to conclude her employment at Belmont,” saying that “this was a decision that Coach Howe made.”
This is absent from the current statement.
Belmont has not released any additional information today regarding the dismissal of women’s soccer coach Lisa Howe. Howe told team members last week that she and her partner were expecting a baby in May, and she was many sources on and off campus, including team members, have said that she was fired or forced to resign.
Since the Vision reported the story at 6 p.m. Thursday, the news has spread quickly across social and traditional media platforms. The Tennessean released a story on Howe’s early this morning, and local television news outlets have also reported on the issue. The Nashvillest blog, Nashville Scene and City Paper have also posted stories and blog posts about the situation on their websites.
On Twitter and Facebook, the story has spread between friends and reached several national media outlets, the most prominent of them being The Advocate, an LBGT issues magazine, and some Twitter users are asking celebrities like Joy Behar and Perez Hilton to pick up story.
At 9:45 p.m., Belmont communications director Greg Pillon e-mailed the Belmont Vision with official statements from the university regarding Coach Lisa Howe’s exit from Belmont.
“Women’s soccer coach Lisa Howe has informed the university of her intent to conclude her employment with Belmont. This was a decision Coach Howe made,” Belmont athetics director Mike Strickland said in the statement. “Belmont is so grateful for the work Coach Howe has done and her commitment to women’s soccer and Belmont Athletics.”
The e-mail also included a statement from Howe: “I appreciate Belmont University giving me the opportunity to lead the women’s soccer program for the last six seasons… I want to thank all the student-athletes who worked so hard for and dedicated themselves to me and the program. I am at a point in my life where I am satisfied to move on, and I wish the Belmont women’s soccer team continued success.”
Belmont women’s soccer head coach Lisa Howe was dismissed earlier this week, just days after she told team members that she and her same-sex partner would have a child.
Senior forward Erica Carter– who started for Howe her entire college career– said the team is shocked and angered by the coach’s firing.
As of early Thursday evening, the university had not released a statement that confirmed Howe’s dismissal. Earlier in the day, Carter said no one representing the university had met with team members to discuss the situation with them.
Carter and other players on the team held a members-only meeting after they learned through unofficial sources that the coach was removed from her position. Carter said they were unified in their stance against Howe’s firing.
“The general feeling on the team when everyone heard was like a wildfire spread of fury and anger,” she said. “We were all talking in groups and upset and outraged that they would take our coach away after all that she has done for the program and for us individually.”
“We all just felt that this was unfair, and it wasn’t done in the right way,” Carter said.
According to Carter, earlier today Howe said good-bye to her players in a tear-filled meeting. Carter told the Vision that Howe wrote “No Regrets” on the board in the locker room and apologized to her players because of the situation. She gave each player a Christmas gift because she wouldn’t be able to attend their party.
Howe, who came to Belmont in 2005, was still listed as head coach on the Athletics Department website Thursday afternoon. According to her bio on the site, “The program has not only soared on the field but continues to excel in the classroom under Howe’s leadership.” More than 30 players have earned Atlantic Sun All-Academic honors. Howe’s teams have posted a 52-48-16 record.
While there has been no word from the university on Howe’s dismissal, it follows a recent ruling by Belmont administration that denied recognition of Bridge Builders, an LGBT issues group, as an official student organization.
Tennessee does not have a law that prohibits firing employees based on sexual preference.