UNIVERSITY PARK – Below is a joint statement from all parties, announcing a confidential settlement agreement resolving all of the legal issues in a discrimination lawsuit that former Lady Lion basketball player Jennifer Harris filed last year:
The parties are pleased to announce they have reached an amicable settlement of actions filed by Jennifer E. Harris against The Pennsylvania State University; Penn State\’s athletic director, Timothy Curley; and Penn State\’s women\’s basketball coach, Rene Portland. The terms of the settlement agreement are confidential.
Ms. Harris, a former Penn State women\’s basketball player, filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Ms. Harris also filed Complaints with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.
Penn State, Mr. Curley and Coach Portland have disputed Ms. Harris\’ allegations and have denied any liability with respect to the complaints filed against them. Ms. Harris has agreed to permanently withdraw and end her legal actions against all parties.
Jennifer Harris is now a member of the women\’s basketball team at James Madison University, where she has been sidelined this season with a persistent ankle injury. Although Ms. Harris underwent successful ankle surgery on January 19th, she is likely to be out for the remainder of the season. As a freshman at Penn State, Jennifer Harris, a guard, contributed off the bench, averaging 9.7 minutes a game. In her sophomore year, Ms. Harris earned a larger role, starting 22 of the 34 games and averaging 25.8 minutes. That year Ms. Harris scored 313 points and averaged 10.4 points per game, the third highest total on the team after two seniors. She had 42 assists, 45 free throws, and 76 rebounds.
Ms. Harris led the team in scoring twice, and shared the lead in three other games. Some of her highest scoring games were against elite teams such as Duke (17), Ohio State (22), and North Carolina (19). Ms. Harris ranked third on the team in assists (42), steals (38), and three-point percentage (.327), and she ranked second in blocked shots (11). While in high school, Ms. Harris received numerous honors and awards, including being named the 2003 Gatorade Pennsylvania High School Player of the Year, 2003 WBCA All-American, four-time Nike All American and four-time Blue Chip All-American.
Coach Portland is one of the most successful women\’s basketball coaches in the United States, collecting seven conference championships and eight conference tournament titles in her career. She is the sixth winningest NCAA Division I coach of all-time with nearly 700 career wins.
Coach Portland recently earned her 600th win as head coach of the Lady Lions, a record of wins at a single university achieved by only 8 other Division I coaches. She is also a four-time Big Ten Coach of the Year and a two-time WBCA National Coach of the Year. She has served as president of the WBCA and has led the U.S. Junior National Team to silver and gold medals. Throughout her career, Coach Portland has been a tireless advocate and major spokesperson for equality in women\’s sports under Title IX.
Penn State has a longstanding commitment to create and maintain an academic and work environment that fosters respect for others and is free of discrimination of any kind, including harassment. The University is a national leader with respect to its policies in this regard and intends to continue to play a leadership role.