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20 Nov

What would be your advice to Pegues in the below scenario?


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Midwestern State University, a Division I-A football power that had fallen on hard times, advertised for a new head football coach. The ad indicated that previous football coaching experience was required. Several applicants applied, including Coach Ross, the head football coach at another college, who was also a friend and former colleague of Midwestern’s athletic director, Shoemaker. Ross, who had over 15 years of collegiate coaching experience, including 8 years as a head coach, applied after being persuaded by Shoemaker to do so. Ross and Shoemaker are both white. A search committee, chaired by Shoemaker, reviewed numerous applications and invited two applicants for on-campus interviews. One applicant was Ross. The other was an African American, Coach Pegues, who had played college and professional football. Pegues coached at a D-I institution for four years, where he served first as running back and then as wide receiver coach. From there, Pegues moved to the NFL, where he coached for seven years for two teams. He served as quarterback coach for the first team for two years. For the past five years, Pegues has served as offensive coordinator of a highly regarded NFL team. During the on-campus interviews, Ross and Pegues met with various constituencies, including football players, the search committee, a faculty committee, and athletic department personnel. Both received favorable responses from the groups with whom they met. However, the faculty, athletes, and athletic personnel stated that they preferred Pegues. During the deliberations of the search committee, Shoemaker stated, “Perhaps I shouldn’t say this, but I have to be honest. I feel uneasy with Pegues. How do we know if he’ll be outspoken like that Nolan Richardson? I’m also concerned with how the major donors to our football program will react to him. We wouldn’t want to lose a major source of financial support by hiring this guy. It wouldn’t be worth it.” After vigorous debate, the search committee concluded that both candidates were qualified to serve as head football coach. The committee understood, however, that it served in an advisory capacity and the final decision rested with the athletic director, Shoemaker. Shoemaker extended an offer to Ross, who declined. Shoemaker decided not to extend an offer to Pegues. In explaining why he did not, Shoemaker stated, “Pegues is 235 highly qualified, and I wish him well. I simply don’t think he is a good fit for our program.” Pegues has come to your office seeking advice on whether he should pursue an action for employment discrimination on account of race. How would you advise him?

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