Foul Ball

Baseball coach Jim Brady has been fighting his bosses in the UMSL athletic department for seven years. And he thought colon cancer was a pain in the ass.

The memo broadsided Brady.

"She hadn't even been there an entire year. We go to the World Series, and she comes in with an evaluation that is four pages long, telling me how to better perform my duties," he fumes.

"You know what? I'm a friggin' baseball coach. If I want to go off campus and go somewhere, I can go. I don't need to carry around a beeper and have to report wherever my movement is. I'm having success. Trust me to go out and be in the right place at the right time. If I have to call in and be treated like I'm in grade school, if I have to have a note to go to the bathroom, that's bullshit. That's not how you run an athletic department. It was like I had to report everything to the mother hen."

Brady’s 2003 team has compiled a 39-13 record so far — the most wins in the school’s history.
Jennifer Silverberg
Brady’s 2003 team has compiled a 39-13 record so far — the most wins in the school’s history.
Brady was named this year’s Great Lakes Valley Conference Coach of the Year, even though UMSL spent less on its baseball program than any other school in the conference.
Jennifer Silverberg
Brady was named this year’s Great Lakes Valley Conference Coach of the Year, even though UMSL spent less on its baseball program than any other school in the conference.

The next year, Dolan altered Brady's contract, requiring him to work on campus through the summer for no additional salary. Before that time, Brady had been working under a nine-month contract, which left his summers open to work at baseball camps to supplement his UMSL salary, which at the time paid him $26,146.

Brady, who says the summer-camp gigs were good for up to $9,000 a year, filed a grievance with university officials, claiming sex discrimination. His rationale: A female employee in the recreational-sports office had gone to a twelve-month contract but was paid a prorated amount for the additional three months' work.

Vice Chancellor Jack Nelson sided with Brady, ruling that the coach's base pay should be increased by one-third, to $34,861, to reflect the extra three months.

"That's when they hit the ceiling," Brady recalls. "From that time on, every time I so much as farted without permission, they'd write it down. They tried to create a paper trail. When I would call it to their attention that they were trying to set me up to make me fail and I'm not going to stand for this, then they really got pissed off."

Robert Samples, UMSL's director of communications, says that the university cannot discuss individual personnel issues. "I can say generally that UMSL conducts employee evaluations and keeps personnel files as a matter of good management," says Samples, "but I cannot divulge the contents of these matters as they related to Coach Brady individually."

In any event, memos from Dolan to Brady increased, citing various infractions, however slight. In a memo dated November 14, 1997, the athletic director complained that Brady had not filled out the proper continuing-education forms for a hitting clinic he organized for local youth. A February 10, 1998, memo appeared to blame the baseball team for a hole in the plaster wall around the indoor track, though Dolan conceded that "there are no witnesses and technically we do not know who put the hole in the wall." Users of the indoor track "have witnessed baseball players spitting in the facility and using profanity in public," she added.

The next missive came from Vice Chancellor Reinhard Schuster in April 1998.

The two-page letter -- which, like the rest of the paperwork concerning his job, Brady has saved -- lists "goals and objectives" for the coming year. Most of the "objectives" are of the boilerplate variety, dictating that athletes "retain their academic eligibility" and that the baseball coach "adhere to all departmental, campus and [University of Missouri] System rules, regulations and guidelines." The next-to-last objective states that the head baseball coach's normal office hours would be 8 a.m.-5 p.m. "with a lunch period of an hour." Any deviation from that schedule would have to be approved by "the director."

The final objective: "[T]he baseball program's success will be at or above .500 in all Great Lakes Valley Conference contests."

This was followed by an ultimatum: "If these objectives are not accomplished, you will voluntarily resign from your position at UMSL as the men's head baseball coach."

At the bottom of the page was a blank line for the coach's signature.

Brady refused to sign the letter.

"This is ridiculous!" he marvels. "If that were the case [at other schools], that you'd have to be .500 or better, every year half the coaches in America would have to resign. I told Schuster, 'Mister, you can intimidate the women; you will never intimidate me. I'm not going to sign nothing.' I sent a letter to them and filed a new grievance against them for retaliation."

Athletic director Pat Dolan denies that the memo amounted to a threat to fire Brady if his team failed to win at least half its games. "That was never in there, that they had to resign," she says. "There are job expectations, that you have to be at work every day by eight and have to work until five. That's what it was, they needed to be in their office from eight to five, that they needed to be at every practice. Their teams had to be involved in three community events during the school year. Their teams had to attend other athletic events. Those are just job expectations."

This time Brady filed complaints with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging age discrimination. In the complaints, Brady noted that Schuster only sent the "goals and objectives" letter to four UMSL coaches, all of whom were over the age of 40. They were Brady, men's basketball coach Rick Meckfessel, women's volleyball coach Denise Silvester and golf coach Jim Niederkorn. Coaches under 40 did not receive the letter. The objectives, Brady's complaint concluded, were "aimed at forcing the older coaches to resign or provide tools to be used for grounds for termination."

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