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Former Lady Griz head coach gets payout she was looking for
406 sports
Shannon Schweyen

In 2020 the University of Montana decided not to renew the contract of the Lady Griz head coach Shannon Schweyen. Schweyen had played for the Lady Griz from 1988-1992 and could be argued to be one of the best to play for the team. After college she became the assistant coach under  Robin Selvig for 24 years. In 2016 she became the head coach for four years and was let go in the spring of 2020. 

Schweyen filed a lawsuit against the university in November of 2021 claiming they violated the title Vll and that her pay wasn’t the same as the men’s coach Travis Decuires. 

Settlement payout of $350,000 from the University of Montana.  

— 406 sports

Shannon Schweyen 

Shannon Schweyen came to the griz in 1988 after she graduated from Billings Central. She has set a few records in the Big Sky Conference some being

  •  Scoring 2,172 career points 
  •  Second in the league history in field goals made (808). 
  • She was one of the ten Kodak All-American team members in 1992, making her the league’s first and only player to be named to an All-American team. 
  • She was  a Naismith player of the year finalist and Wade Trophy nominee. 
  • Schweyen wore the number 21 which was retired after she left making her the only Montana women’s basketball player to have their number retired.  

In the four years that Schweyen coached she had a record of 52-69. 

  • The 2016-2017 season the team went 7-23, 4-14 in the Big Sky Conference and lost in the first round of the Big Sky tournament. 
  •  The 2017-18 season the team went 14-17, 9-9 in the Big Sky Conference and lost in the quarterfinals of the Big Sky tournament. 
  • In the 2018-19 season the team went 14-16, 9-11 in the Big Sky Conference and lost in the first round of the Big Sky tournament. 

The 2018 Allegations

In the spring of 2018 the Griz athletic director Kent Haslam did an investigation on why players were transferring and most reasons were because of Schweyen being the head coach. Haslam concluded that there was a lack of trust between Schweyen and the players.

The Transfering didn’t stop then it continued into the 2019-2019 basketball season where another part time starter transferred. After that season Haslam offered her a one year extension contract with pay of $134,589 which is $4,589 more then what she was previously making at $130,000. 


The end of a Career 

In the 2019-2020 season the Lady Griz went 17-13 and won a game in the Big Sky conference. This was enough for Haslam to have a conversation with Schweyen about extending her contract. After that meeting players were entering the transfer portal again and some told Haslam about their plans to transfer if Schweyen stayed the head coach. 

Haslam held another meeting with Schweyen to figure out why all of these girls were leaving because of her being the head coach. Two days after that they had one final meeting where Haslam informed Schweyen that she was not getting renewed for the next season and her contract expired in June 2020. 

Schweyen vs UM

Schweyen has been fighting against the University of Montana for about four years, first starting when she filed discrimination charges with the equal employment opportunity commission (EEOC) on September 8th, 2020. Nearly a year after that EEOC issued a notice of right to sue. The case went to court in october of 2023 

In her claim Schweyen stated that the university discriminated against her by “Evaluating her performance more harshly than her male because of her gender, targeting her for criticism because of her sex and deciding not to renew her contract because of her gender” (406 sports). 

Haslam said the reasoning for not renewing Schweyen contracts was because of “ poor performance of the women’s basketball team, the numerous and serious complaints regarding the unacceptable environment fostered by Schweyen for the students-athletes on her team, and the intent of many of those student-athletes to leave the program if Schweyen remained as head coach.”  (406 sports). 

The U.S District Court judge ruled with Haslam and the UM stating that  reasons were “ Legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons to (not) renew Schwyens contract” (406 sports). 

After this ruling in Schwyen appealed the case to the Ninth  Circuit Court but after mediation started in January both parties filed a motion to dismiss on April 22, 2024. 

The Settlement 

The motion to dismiss was approved this April and according to state records publicly available online  Schweyen and the law firm of Correia & Puth, PLLC, got a settlement payout of $350,000 from the University of Montana.  

Schwayen did an interview with the Missoulian and 406 sports about how she felt about this resolution “ I am pleased we were able to resolve my case of discrimination against the University of Montana. I devoted my life to the sport of basketball and the University of Montana, and I hope the University of Montana devotes itself to making necessary changes within its athletic department and throughout the university as a whole” (406 sports). 

She also said “ I believe discrimination and unfairness can be avoided if the right people and policies are in place to promote an equal opportunity to all. I am glad to put this chapter behind me and focus on my future and my family” (406 Sports). 

Haslam was asked to give an interview but couldn’t because of legal reasons.

About the Contributor
Avery Bucklin
Avery Bucklin, Reporter
Quick and painful is the way to go