Thursday, July 31, 2014         


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Bolla's suit dismissed

By Ferd Lewis


Fired women's basketball coach Jim Bolla, who acknowledged hitting a player with his foot, was denied reinstatement and his lawsuit against the University of Hawaii was thrown out by a federal judge.

Chief U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway granted UH's request for summary judgment "because all of the substantive claims have been disposed of in (the defendant's favor)."

Bolla was removed during the 2008-09 season with pay while an investigation took place and dismissed in March 2009 for "cause" after UH said it substantiated allegations he kicked a player.

At the time, Bolla had two years remaining on a contract that paid him an estimated $120,000 per year.

Bolla filed suit in April 2009, alleging he was fired in retaliation for complaints he made about inequities between the men's and women's basketball programs.

Mollway's decision said, "Bolla does not dispute having done the acts for which he was reprimanded and terminated (but) does dispute the severity of his conduct."

When contacted yesterday, Bolla said he "didn't know" about the judgment. His attorney, R. Steven Geshell, said "we were not happy with the ruling" and said they are "still reviewing it."

Ken Robbins, who represented UH, said the dismissal of the lawsuit "... confirms that Mr. Bolla's claims could not be supported. It is unfortunate that valuable resources had to be spent to defend Mr. Bolla's lawsuit. Nevertheless, the university wishes Mr. Bolla well in his future pursuits."

The ruling said Bolla had earlier been reprimanded for "inappropriate remarks concerning sexual orientation" and "verbal abuse and manipulation" of athletes and cautioned additional violations could be cause for action, including termination.

An unidentified UH player claimed in 2008 Bolla told her, "If you are not in the right place, I'm gonna put my foot up your (butt)."

Subsequently, when an athlete in another play was not in the correct position, the student claimed Bolla kicked her in the butt with sufficient force to move her several feet. Bolla maintained he "tapped her buttocks" and acknowledged she "teared up," according to the ruling.

A UH investigation said Bolla had told other players who had not performed satisfactorily, "If that were me, I would have broken your (bleeping) arm" and "you can take that one-handed pass and shove it up your (butt)," according to the ruling.

It claimed Bolla also told a player she needed to go to a psychologist and another that she should be tested for attention deficit disorder.

Bolla contended termination was an overreaction, the ruling noted. In the suit, Bolla claimed his punishment was harsher than that given football coach Greg McMackin for his actions.

Bolla's suit said McMackin used a gay slur to describe an opponent's victory dance during a 2009 media session. Moreover, Bolla contended McMackin "reportedly threw objects during a halftime speech in the locker room" and swung a power chain saw in the locker room during a pregame "motivational speech."

McMackin was suspended for the slurs and, the ruling said, had his pay reduced.

The ruling said the court "does not have a basis for deeming that conduct as comparable to Bolla's."

Dana Takahara-Dias was hired in May 2009 to replace Bolla at UH.

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