Mormon tennis player sues ISU, ex-coaches

Orin Duffin

Orin Duffin

By Kendra Evensen
kevensen@journalnet.com

An Idaho Falls man believes he faced religious discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation while playing for the men’s tennis team at Idaho State University during the 2014-2015 school year.

Orin Duffin has filed a lawsuit against Idaho State University, President Arthur C. Vailas, Athletic Director Jeff Tingey, former head tennis coach Bobby Goeltz and former assistant coach Nate Gross.

He wants a jury trial in the matter and seeks punitive damages and attorney fees among other relief, according to the complaint that was filed on Friday.

ISU officials declined to comment on the situation due to the pending litigation.

Duffin was the only member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the team. And he alleges that he was singled out and harassed by his coaches and subsequently his team members because of his religious affiliation.

He accuses Gross and Goeltz of asking him inappropriate questions about sexual activities related to his beliefs, and using profane language and sexual references that were directed at him during practices, tournaments and team events, according to the complaint.

During a stay in Las Vegas for a tournament, Duffin alleges that Gross invited team members to a strip club and provided alcoholic beverages to team members and harassed him when he did not participate in either activity.

Duffin also accuses Gross and team members of arranging to send two prostitutes/strippers to his room to “tempt him to violate his religious tenets and to sexually harass and embarrass him,” according to the complaint.

“Plaintiff sent the women away and was devastated that he would be singled out and discriminated against solely because of his religious beliefs,” the complaint states. “One teammate reported to ISU that ‘I don’t think they would have done that if he wasn’t Mormon.”

The complaint states that Goeltz knew about the harassment and rather than investigate it, he questioned Duffin’s sexuality and insinuated he was gay.

Duffin was also harassed for not playing tennis when he was hurt and was purposely struck with the ball during practices, according to the complaint. In addition, he was prohibited from playing in double matches after he accepted a call to serve a mission for his church.

One of the team members eventually reported concerns about the way Duffin was being treated to athletic administrators at ISU, and Duffin later filed a report as well, according to the complaint.

It goes on to say that Stacey Gibson, ISU’s Director of Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action and Diversity and Title IX Administrator, conducted an investigation.

“In the report, Ms. Gibson found that, “[t]he interviews conducted collectively paint a clear picture that the [Plaintiff] was subjected to severe, persistent and pervasive harassment and bullying,” according to the court complaint. “In particular they establish that the [Plaintiff’s] religion was a contributing factor of that treatment; that [coach Gross] actively participated in that harassment; and that [coach Goeltz] accepted a team culture that promulgated such harassment and/or bullying of the [Plaintiff] by [Gross] and members of the men’s tennis team.”

Gibson subsequently recommended Goeltz’s termination and would have done the same for Gross, but he had already resigned, according to the complaint.

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ISU MBB: Telfair withdraws from NBA Draft, will return to ISU

telfair nwu

By Madison Guernsey mguernsey@journalnet.com

Idaho State’s Ethan Telfair withdrew from the NBA Draft on Monday, first reported by Jeff Goodman of ESPN. Telfair, who will be a senior next season, declared for the draft April 20 but did not hire an agent, keeping his NCAA eligibility intact

Non-seniors who remain unrepresented by an agent have until May 25 to withdraw from the draft and can return to college without losing NCAA eligibility. Telfair was not invited to the draft combine but worked out for the Utah Jazz on May 19. He can re-enter the draft after next season

Telfair led the Bengals in scoring, steals, minutes and assists last season en route to earning first-team all-Big Sky and Newcomer of the Year honors. The Coney Island, New York, native and brother of former NBA point guard Sebastian Telfair said in April he was declaring for the draft mostly to get first-hand experience of the professional process.

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ISU’s Erdahl finishes race despite gruesome injury

Shelby Erdahl

By Madison Guernsey mguernsey@journalnet.com

As Shelby Erdahl came down the back stretch of Nottingham Field, the entire crowd was on its feet in anticipation. Erdahl’s feat was incredible.

It was her last race as a collegiate athlete — the finals of the 400-meter hurdles at the Big Sky Conference outdoor track and field championships in Greeley, Colorado. Erdahl was in dead last, almost two minutes behind the other seven runners in the field who had already finished. She’d worked years for this moment, and she could barely walk, but she’d be damned if she didn’t finish that race.

On the second of 10 hurdles, Erdahl ruptured her left Achilles tendon — the thickest tendon in the body that attaches the calf and heel. The injury is physically debilitating and makes walking nearly impossible.

“It had been a longtime goal of mine to make it to finals and score for my team in that event,” Erdahl said. “… I never really thought about quitting.”

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Award Winning Movie at ISU Saturday

Acclaimed movie “Eastside Sushi” will be shown this Saturday, May 21, at 5:30 and 8:00 p.m. in the Bengal Theater.  In this multiple award winning movie, a young Hispanic woman takes a job at a local Japanese restaurant, and learns to make a multitude of sushi on her own, fusing it with her own culture. But when she attempts to become a sushi chef, she is shut down since she is the ‘wrong’ race and gender. Against all odds, she embarks on a journey of self-discovery, determined to not let anyone stop her from achieving her dream. (Rated PG) Admission is $2 for the public, while ISU students get in free with valid Bengal ID.  More at www.pocatellofilmsociety.com/sushi.
eastsushi

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ISU volleyball: Idaho State inks two more for 2016 season

ISU Sports Information

Idaho State added Taeja Davis and Abby Jensen to the volleyball roster for next season, head coach Rick Reynolds announced Thursday. Davis arrives at ISU as a senior and Jensen will join the squad as a sophomore. Both are eligible to play this coming season.

“Taeja and Abby will be great additions to our roster,” Reynolds said. “Our staff felt we needed to add some experience to the gym, and they will step in and provide that day one.”

Davis, a six-foot middle blocker from Idaho Falls, played for Reynolds for two seasons at Western Wyoming Community College from 2013-15 and spent last season at Indiana Purdue Fort Wayne. During her time at Western Wyoming, Davis helped the Mustangs to two top-10 national rankings: fifth in 2013 and eighth in 2014. She also earned academic all-conference both seasons with WWCC. Prior to her college career, Davis was a standout athlete at Bonneville High School and lettered four years in volleyball and three in track. She earned all-league honorable mention in 2011 and earned first-team honors in 2012 while helping the Bees to three straight playoff appearances from 2010-12.

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ISU softball: Burnett, Ames voted to NFCA Pacific All-Region teams

By Journal Staff

Idaho State softball players Kacie Burnett and Ashlyn Ames were named to the NFCA Pacific All-Region teams, announced Thursday. Burnett earned second-team honors, while Ames was tabbed as a third-teamer.

Burnett, a junior, led the Big Sky with a .454 batting average, 79 hits and 27 stolen bases this season. She was second in runs (51) and on-base percentage (.510) while smacking five triples. Burnett’s NFCA selection is her second. She was named to the USA Softball Top 50 Watch List prior to the start of the season and earned her third first-team all-conference nod. She’s now eligible for All-American honors.

Ames contributed from the pitcher’s circle and the batter’s box, compiling a .355 batting average with five home runs and 47 RBIs. The sophomore went 11-12 from the circle in 140 2/3 innings with a 3.48 ERA and 56 strikeouts.

The NFCA awarded 385 student-athletes from 157 programs all-region accolades. The awards honor softball student-athletes from the association’s 10 regions with first-, second- and third-team selections. NFCA member coaches from each respective region voted on the teams.

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ISU students achieve national recognition for community banking case study

From left, Tyler Burch, Hye Joon Lee, Ann Hackert, Dawn Konicek, Ben Wilson, Carlie Lutz, Jacob Hall and Michael Hunn. (Submitted Photo)

From left, Tyler Burch, Hye Joon Lee, Ann Hackert, Dawn Konicek, Ben Wilson, Carlie Lutz, Jacob Hall and Michael Hunn. (Submitted Photo)

By Sarah Glenn/Idaho State Journal

POCATELLO — Six Idaho State University undergraduates have joined the elite national ranks of students who study community banking.

The Idaho Department of Finance announced Tuesday that the students were named finalists in the Community Bank Case Study Competition. Team members are Jacob Hall, Michael Hunn, Hye Joon Lee, Carlie Lutz, Ben Wilson and student videographer, Ryan Byers.

They now join 11 other university teams from colleges across the country vying for the competition’s ultimate prize. The winner will be announced May 26.

“This is an incredible accomplishment,” said Ann Hackert, one of the team’s faculty advisers and a professor in the College of Business at ISU. “It was an honor to work with these students in this really challenging project. It was inspiring for me to be a part of.”

The students spent a semester analyzing the inner workings of Citizens Community Bank. Their research was condensed into a 25-page case study and a video, which they submitted to the Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS). The 2016 competition focused on the impact of small business lending efforts by local community banks. According to competition rules, “The case study should evaluate the institution’s financial performance and management, and assess the impact of the institutions small business lending efforts.”

“Part of what makes this challenging is that they don’t know specifically what to write about when they are starting out,” Hackert said.

The students looked into the bank’s financial performance, its relationship with the community, how it engaged with lending customers and how the bank was helping businesses both with startup costs and growth potential.

Students maintained weekly meetings with bank officials, conducted interviews and pored over volumes of information. While 33 universities signed up for the competition, only 23 were able to complete the necessary work in time. Of the 23 universities who submitted work, only 11 now remain in competition.

Students on the first-place team will receive a $1,000 CSBS scholarship and an opportunity to present their case study at the CSBS-Federal Reserve Community Banking in the 21st Century Research and Policy Conference, and their case study will be published in the “Community Banking in the 21st Century: Opportunities, Challenges and Perspectives” yearly report that is released at the annual research conference.

Regardless of whether they win the final prize, Hackert said simply becoming a finalist is a unique accomplishment. According to Hackert, students from the College of Business had to compete to be one of the six people on the team.

“Just to get into the class was competitive,” Hackert said.

The late nights and early mornings added up to the equivalent of a banking internship.

“This was real-world experience,” Hackert said. “Not only did they learn about their topic, but they also developed skills that make them directly employable. They were impressive.”

The Idaho Department of Finance agreed.

“Congratulations to the Idaho State University student team for being named a finalist in the 2016 Community Bank Case Study Competition,” said Idaho Department of Finance Director Gavin Gee in a written statement. “I am excited to see our students take interest in community banking and the larger state system of financial supervision. Community banks play an invaluable role in communities around the country and especially here in the state of Idaho, and the research from these students will foster even more insight into the impact of community banks on small businesses.”

The team’s faculty advisors were Hackert, Dr. Tyler Burch and Dawn Konicek.

The students partnered with Citizens Community Bank, in Pocatello, a division of Glacier Bank. The bank participants were Amy Rhoads, president and CEO; Dan Heiner, EVP/senior credit officer; Nathan Christensen, SVP/commercial loan officer; Ryan Ward, EVP/senior real estate loan manager; Jeff Garvin, SVP/chief financial officer; and Susan Gibbens, SVP/branch administrator.

More information on the competition is available at bit.ly/1Nw1zSk.

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ISU MBB: Telfair’s workout with Jazz set for Thursday

ISu men's basketball

Idaho State junior point guard Ethan Telfair will participate in a pre-draft workout with the Utah Jazz, the Jazz announced Wednesday. Telfair and five other draft-eligible prospects will work out Thursday at the Jazz’s practice facility. The workout was originally reported to be held Tuesday.

Telfair declared for June 23’s NBA Draft on April 20 and has not hired an agent. His workout with the Jazz is his first with an NBA team since declaring. To keep his NCAA eligibility intact, Telfair must withdraw from the draft by the May 25 deadline and remain unrepresented by an agent.

Joining Telfair in Salt Lake City will be Iowa senior Jarrod Uthoff, Northeastern seniors David Walker and Quincy Ford, Dayton senior DyShawn Pierre and Southern Illinois senior Anthony Beane. All six players were named to their respective all-conference teams, and Uthoff was named the CoSIDA Academic All-American of the Year as well as a second-team all-American by Sporting News.

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