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Jim Calhoun, famous UConn coach, is accused of sexist behavior in new lawsuit

A former associate athletic director at the University of Saint Joseph claims in a federal civil suit the school allowed the athletic department to become a “male-dominated, hostile work environment” — and the suit names Jim Calhoun, a former University of Connecticut basketball coach, as one of several men who engaged in sexist behavior toward her and another female employee.

Calhoun is not a defendant in the suit. Only the school, the University of Saint Joseph, located in Connecticut, is listed.

Jaclyn Piscitelli, who worked at USJ from 2011 to 2019, claims that when the all-women’s school became fully coed in 2018, the work environment in the athletic department became “openly hostile and disdainful toward women,” male sports were given more resources than women’s sports and Piscitelli was expected to do more work without assistance, according to her complaint, filed in US District Court.

Piscitelli considered looking for another job in the spring of 2019, telling a high-ranking school official about the “boys club” atmosphere, but she was fired in June and replaced by a man, she says in the suit.

USJ violated Title IX, a federal law prohibiting discrimination and exclusion in educational programs on the basis of sex, Piscitelli claims.

Diana Sousa, a spokeswoman for USJ, told CNN the university has received and is reviewing the lawsuit, but does not comment on pending litigation.

“The University of Saint Joseph takes compliance with all matters relating to Title IX very seriously,” said Sousa.

The lawsuit asks for compensatory damages, both economic and personal; back pay and reinstatement of her job; punitive damages as well as attorney’s fees and pre-judgment interest.

The suit does not request a specific dollar amount in the demand for relief.

Calhoun was hired in September 2018 as the head coach for the new men’s basketball team at USJ. At the time of his hiring, he brought on Glen Miller as an assistant coach. Miller is not a defendant in the suit.

Piscitelli had to share her office with two new hires who engaged in sexist behavior and made occasional sexual comments to her, the lawsuit says.

Among the accusations in the lawsuit, Piscitelli alleges Calhoun knocked coffee grounds onto the floor and made her clean it up, expected her to hold the door open for him and said she is “certainly hot.”

Piscitelli claims Miller engaged in similar behavior, making sexual comments toward Piscitelli, frequently interrupting her when she was speaking and saying he “never read any of (Piscitelli’s) emails.”

CNN reached out to Calhoun and Miller for comment. Calhoun told the New Haven Register he had “no comment.”

Calhoun is known for his tenure as head coach for UConn basketball, leading the men’s basketball team from 1986 to 2012 and winning three NCAA championships. He helped create “one of the nation’s elite college basketball programs” and was named to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2005, according to his profile on its website.

UConn Athletics declined to comment.

Magdalena Wiktor, an attorney for Piscitelli, said in a statement that USJ not only condoned the “boys club” behavior, but fired Piscitelli in retaliation for speaking out.

“We and our client look forward to vindicating her rights to be free from sex discrimination and illegal retaliation,” said Wiktor.

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