NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The women’s soccer coach at Belmont University has left her position with the university over issues related to her homosexuality, according to various news reports.
Initial reports in The Tennessean and other media outlets indicated that Lisa Howe, who had been with the Belmont soccer program for six years, resigned after she had announced to her team and to school administrators that her same-sex partner is pregnant.
Those reports included information from a Dec. 2 statement in which Mike Strickland, Belmont’s athletics director, said that Howe resigned on her own. According to a report by The Tennessean, in the statement Howe was quoted as saying, “I am at a point in my life where I am satisfied to move on.”
But the Belmont Vision campus newspaper of Belmont University reported that in a second statement released by the university on Dec. 3, Belmont and Howe agreed that she “did not ‘resign’ from her employment. Neither was she dismissed.”
According to the Belmont Vision, the statement was released through Belmont communications director Greg Pillon to clear up inaccuracies in media reports.
“Both Coach Howe and the university wish to correct the errors and move forward without further media distraction,” the statement said.
The updated statement also included comment from Howe: “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.”
Some of the players on the women’s soccer team have said they believe Howe was forced to resign because she had revealed she was a lesbian.
According to Erica Carter, a senior on the team, Howe said the university had given her the choice to resign or be fired.
“She said she went to the administration to get permission to talk to us about [the pregnancy] so that she could bring us to light on her becoming a mother,” Carter said in The Tennessean. “She didn’t want us to hear it from other sources. She has never talked about her personal life before. We always hear rumors, speculation and things. She wanted this to come directly from her.”
Belmont athletics director Mike Strickland said in the first statement, “Belmont is so grateful for the work Coach Howe has done and her commitment to women’s soccer and Belmont Athletics.”
Howe had a record of 52-48-16 in her six seasons as coach.
Belmont, a 5,900-student university formerly affiliated with the Tennessee Baptist Convention, states on its website that it “brings together liberal arts and professional education in a Christian community of learning and service.”