Burch v. Regents of University of California

Decision Date05 June 2006
Docket NumberNo. CV.S-04-0038-WBS-GGH.,CV.S-04-0038-WBS-GGH.
Citation433 F.Supp.2d 1110
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of California
PartiesMichael D. BURCH and the Bankruptcy Estate of Michael D. Burch,<SMALL><SUP>1</SUP></SMALL> Plaintiffs, v. REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, Larry Vanderhoef, Greg Warzecka, Pam Gill-Fisher, Robert Franks, and Lawrence Swanson, Defendants.

Anne Butterfield Weills, Dan Siegel, Siegel and Yee, Oakland, CA, Kristen Marie Galles, Law Offices of Kristen Galles, Alexandria, VA, for Plaintiffs.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER RE: DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

SHUBB, District Judge.

Plaintiffs have filed claims against defendants for violations of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681-1688, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. These claims are based on allegations that defendants terminated plaintiff Michael D Burch2 from his position as head wrestling coach at the University of California at Davis ("UCD") because he opposed defendants' sex discrimination against female athletes and publicly advocated on the athletes' behalf. Currently before the court are defendants two (separate) motions for summary judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. The first seeks summary judgment as to all defendants on both claims due to plaintiffs inability to show that he was retaliated against. The second seeks summary judgment on plaintiffs § 1983 claim against defendant Larry Vanderhoef.

I. Factual and Procedural Background

Beginning in 1995, UCD employed plaintiff as its head men's wresting coach through a series of one-year contracts. (Compl. ¶ 5.) Plaintiff was classified as a part-time employee with the Athletic Department, but he also served as a lecturer in the Religious Studies Department starting in 1997. (Id. ¶ 6; Defs.' Statement of Undisputed Facts ("SUF") Ex. A (Warzecka Decl. ¶ 4).) At the time of plaintiff's termination on June 30, 2001, he was employed pursuant to a contract with the Athletic Department that started on July 1, 2000 and, by its terms, ended on June 30 of the following year. (Defs.' SUF Ex. M (contract).)

In addition to the Board of Regents of the University of California, which governs the University of California campuses including UCD, plaintiff is suing several UCD administrators for damages and his reinstatement. Defendant Larry Vanderhoef is the Chancellor of UCD. (Compl.¶ 12.) Defendant Greg Warzecka is the Athletic Director at UCD and defendants Pam Gill-Fisher and Lawrence Swanson are Associate Athletic Directors. (Id. ¶¶ 13-14, 16.) Defendant Robert Franks is the Assistant Chancellor for the Student Affairs Department, which oversees the Athletic Department at UCD. (Id. ¶ 15; Defs.' SUF Ex. N (Franks Decl. ¶ 2).) In 2001, Franks supervised Warzecka, who in turn supervised Swanson (plaintiffs direct supervisor). (See Pl.'s SUF Ex. 15 (Franks Dep. 119:2-11); Defs.' SUF Ex. M (contract).)

The UCD men's wrestling team ("the team") competes at the Division I level of the National Collegiate Athletic Association ("NCAA"). (Compl.¶ 29.) Prior to plaintiffs appointment as head coach, the team suffered six straight losing seasons. (Id. ¶ 32.) However, during the 1995-96 season, plaintiff's first year, the team won five dual meets. (Id. ¶ 33.) During his final year, the team won ten dual meets and, according to plaintiff, enjoyed its first winning season in twenty years. (Id. ¶ 37.) Additionally, the student newspaper, The California Aggie, named plaintiff "Coach of the Year" for the 1996-97 and 2000-01 seasons. (Id. ¶¶ 34, 37; Answer ¶¶ 34, 37.) In general, defendants do not dispute that the team's win-loss record, and the wrestling program overall, improved significantly during plaintiffs tenure. (Defs.' Mem. of P. & A. in Supp. of Mot. for Summ. J. 36.)

A. The. Relationship Between Plaintiff and His Supervisors

However, despite plaintiff and the team's success on the mat, defendants' documents submitted in support of the present motions indicate that a number of conflicts between plaintiff and his supervisors occurred over the years. The first conflict that plaintiff can recall occurred during his first year of coaching, when he approached Warzecka and expressed interest in teaching Physical Education classes. (Pl.'s SUF Ex. 13 (Burch Dep. 175:3-176:3).) Warzecka told plaintiff in a "condescending" tone that this opportunity was not available to him. (Id. at 175:20-25.) Another conflict occurred during plaintiff's second year, when he expressed his concern about his pay to Warzecka during contract discussions. (Id. at 176:4-11.) Warzecka allegedly told him that, in the future, he would put plaintiffs contract in plaintiffs box and he could either sign it or UCD would look for another coach. (Id. at 176:14-24.) Throughout plaintiff's tenure, he believed that he should have been paid more for his coaching activities. (Id. at 625:24-626:2.)

The next dispute concerned athletic scholarships.3 When plaintiff began coaching, UCD did not offer athletic scholarships because of restrictions imposed by the Northern California Athletic Conference (of which UCD was a member). (Defs.' SUF Ex. A (Warzecka Decl. ¶ 5).) Shortly thereafter, the Athletic Department circulated proposals indicating that, pursuant to UCD's change in athletic conferences, athletic scholarships might be available in 1997-98 for the sports in which UCD participated at the Division I level (wrestling and women's gymnastics). (Id.) According to defendants, however, the finalized plan, approved in late 1996 by Chancellor Vanderhoef, authorized athletic scholarships to be issued starting the 1998-99 season. (Id.; Pl.'s SUF Ex. 16 (Warzecka Dep. 212:21-24).)

Nevertheless, while recruiting students to join the team for the 1996-97 school year, plaintiff represented to prospective students that scholarship money would be available to them beginning in 1997-98. (Pl.'s SUF Ex. 13 (Burch Dep. 158-59).) Plaintiff believes that Warzecka authorized him to make that promise. (Id. at 160:9-161:13.) Predictably, the athletes recruited by plaintiff and their parents complained in person to both Warzecka and plaintiff after learning that athletic scholarships would not be awarded in 1997-98. (Id. at 168-69.) This situation created tension between plaintiff and Warzecka that led to their participation in a university facilitated mediation.4 (Id. at 172; Defs.' SUF Ex. AA (Mediation Settlement Agreement).)

Defendants also point the court to the failure of two female wrestlers5 to complete documentation required by UCD to support their argument that plaintiff was lax in performing his oversight duties. (See Defs.' SUF Ex. II (Gill-Fisher Decl. ¶ 4 (wrestlers completed required paperwork and were allowed to return to practice)).) Plaintiff contends that he was not required to ensure that the documentation was complete because it was not required of the female wrestlers by NCAA rules. (Pl.'s SUF Ex. 13 (Burch Dep. 435:21-437:6).)

The next dispute defendants cite involved documentation for $420 in recruiting costs advanced to plaintiff. On May 25, 2000, UCD recruiting coordinator Mitch Campbell wrote a memorandum to defendant complaining that defendant had not submitted an accounting of how the money was spent. (Id. Ex. PP (Campbell Mem.).) On June 13, 2000, plaintiff, Campbell, Gill-Fisher, and Jennifer Cardone, the Assistant Athletic Director for Compliance, met concerning defendant's continuing failure to submit his expense documents and resolved that plaintiff would submit the required documentation by June 16, 2000. (Id. Ex. RR (Minutes of June 13, 2000 Meeting).) "It was also established [at the meeting] that workload issues or employee status ... [would] not excuse [plaintiff] from turning in the required paperwork." (Id.)

Also in the spring of 2000, Warzecka conducted a meeting regarding UCD's plans for moving various coaching positions to full-time status. (Id. Ex. A (Warzecka Decl. ¶ 21).) The plan did not include the head coach of the wrestling team in the first round of changes. (Id. Ex. II (Gill-Fisher Decl. ¶ 5).) According to Gill-Fisher, at some point after the meeting, Burch asked her to amend the plan to make the wrestling coach a full-time position. (Id.) Gill-Fisher declined to offer her support for this change, stating that UCD needed to extend more full-time positions to female coaches to comply with Title IX. (Id.) Gill-Fisher alleges that, in response, plaintiff "blurted out `[f]uck Title IX,' and stormed out of [her] office." (Id; Pl.'s SUF Ex. 17 (Gill-Fisher Dep. 564:3-565:23).)

The next dispute involved an open tournament on November 17, 2000 at Southern Oregon University. Plaintiff contends that the team was scheduled to participate in the tournament, and defendants contend that the team was not scheduled to do so: both have submitted schedules supporting these positions. (See Defs.' SUF Ex. AAA (defendants' version of 2000-01 wrestling schedule); id. Ex. BBB (plaintiffs version of 2000-01 wrestling schedule).) Compliance Director Cardone, concerned by plaintiffs alleged failure to schedule the tournament, conducted an investigation into the Oregon trip, looking for potential violations of intercollegiate athletics rules. (Id. Ex. JJ (Cardone Decl. ¶ 5).) The issue was apparently still unresolved several months later. Although plaintiff sent Associate Athletic Director Swanson an email on March 26, 2001 claiming that all paperwork for that trip had been completed and submitted to Gill-Fisher, (id. Ex. DDD (Mar. 26, 2001 Burch e-mail)), Cardone declared that the required expense reports were not submitted until April, 2001. (Id. Ex. JJ (Cardone Decl. ¶ 5).) The investigation itself consequently continued until August, 2001 — well after plaintiffs termination. (Id.)

In March, 2001, there was another dispute, again potentially involving NCAA violations, regarding a recruiting trip that plaintiff took to Stockton to watch the California State High School Wrestling Championships. Two of plaintiffs...

To continue reading

Request your trial
532 cases
  • Warner v. Midland Credit Mgmt., Inc.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Central District of California
    • 19 Mayo 2021
    ...of the summary judgment standard itself" and are thus "redundant" and unnecessary to consider here. Burch v. Regents of Univ. of Cal., 433 F. Supp. 2d 1110, 1119 (E.D. Cal. 2006) ; see also Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505 ("Factual disputes that are irrelevant or unnecessary will ......
  • Munoz v. PHH Mortg. Corp., No. 1:08-cv-00759-DAD-BAM
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • 11 Agosto 2020
    ...for their objection. (Doc. No. 352-1 at 29–30.) Accordingly, the objection is overruled. See Burch v. Regents of Univ. of California , 433 F. Supp. 2d 1110, 1123 (E.D. Cal. 2006) ("The burden is on defendants to state their objections with specificity."); see also Warner-Tamerlane Publishin......
  • S.T. v. City of Ceres
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • 30 Agosto 2018
    ...judgment motion since the Court only considers the material facts in making its determination. See Burch v. Regents of Univ. of California , 433 F.Supp.2d 1110, 1119 (E.D. Cal. 2006) ("objections to evidence on the ground that it is irrelevant ...[is] duplicative of the summary judgment sta......
  • Canupp v. Children's Receiving Home of Sacramento
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. Eastern District of California
    • 20 Abril 2016
    ...of the claim forms she submitted or that CRH could address these evidentiary concerns at trial. See generallyBurch v. Regents of Univ. of California, 433 F.Supp.2d 1110, 1120 (E.D.Cal.2006) ("[W]hen evidence is not presented in an admissible form in the context of a motion for summary judgm......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT