NBA Security Official Sues, Says She Was Fired After Spurning Coach's Advances
A woman who works as an NBA security official has filed an employment discrimination lawsuit saying she was removed from an assignment to the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London after she spurned an advance from Connecticut and women's national coach Geno Auriemma, according to a report from the Associated Press.
Kelley Hardwick filed her suit on Monday in state Supreme Court in Manhattan, naming Auriemma, the NBA and USA Basketball as defendants, the article says.
Hardwick is a former detective with the New York police department who started working for the NBA in security in 2002, and she managed security for the U.S. women at international basketball events, including the Olympics in 2004 and 2008, according to AP.
It was during a 2009 trip to Russia that she says she met Auriemma. According to the lawsuit, one night after Auriemma wedged his way into a conversation with Hardwick and a co-worker in a hotel lounge, he followed her to the door of her room and tried to kiss her, the article says.
"Plaintiff was startled but, utilizing her training as a police officer and security professional, reacted quickly by shoving him away and stating, 'What are you doing? You better check yourself before you get hurt!'" the suit says.
Hardwick says in the suit she told supervisors about the incident, but that nothing was done. In subsequent international trips, according to the suit, Auriemma avoided her but was uncomfortable with her being there, the article says.
In March, Hardwick’s suit says she learned of a conference call involving NBA officials in which Auriemma demanded that she be taken off the security assignment for the London Games, according to AP.
In his statement, Auriemma said, "This claim is beyond false. I will defend myself to the fullest, and I'm confident that the truth will ultimately prevail. In the meantime, I remain focused on representing the United States this summer and getting our team ready to compete for the gold medal."
As part of the lawsuit, AP reports, Hardwick also says that the NBA discriminated against her due to her gender, and that she was denied promotions, raises, and employment opportunities because she was a woman.
Hardwick is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, as well as back pay, the article says.
Auriemma is one of the elite coaches in women's basketball and has guided the Huskies to seven national titles — including four perfect seasons, according to AP.
His election as the Olympic coach was announced in April 2009, and he led the national team to a world championship in 2010 that earned the U.S. an automatic bid to the London Games, the article says.