Ex-Penn State player says Portland discriminated

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- A former Penn State women's basketball
player started a discrimination complaint against Nittany Lions
coach Rene Portland, filing paperwork Friday claiming that she was
harassed by the coach to change her appearance because she was not
"feminine enough."
The attorney for Jennifer Harris cited sex and race as the basis
for charges of "discrimination, retaliation and harassment" in
paperwork filed with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.
Harris, who is black, said in the filings that she told Portland
that she was not comfortable in changing her appearance, and that
Portland then "treated me differently from other team members"
and "threatened and humiliated me" to try get Harris to quit or
take a leave of absence.
Besides the university, Portland and athletic director Tim
Curley were named in the complaint.
A spokeswoman for Portland, who is white, said Friday that the
coach had not seen the complaint and declined to comment. A
spokesman for Curley also declined comment.
Harris left Penn State after last season and transferred to
James Madison. Portland, in response to Harris' initial allegations
last month, said in a statement that accusations that the former
player's departure involved discrimination on the basis of her
perceived sexual orientation were "completely and utterly
University spokesman Tysen Kendig said he was not aware of any
prior complaints by Harris related to race. "It wouldn't surprise
me that it hadn't come up before, because we have had very little
information on the issue."
Lawyers for the two sides have talked, but the school said they
have not been allowed to talk to Harris herself and that is
delaying an internal investigation.
Harris has said Portland thought she was gay, but the former
Penn State player says she is not.
In the filing, Harris said the "pattern of ongoing harassment"
started in early 2004, and that other black players were forced off
the team or harassed "more harshly than other players because of
their race and what coach Portland perceived to be their
nonconformity to out-of-date gender stereotypes."
Portland has declined to discuss the issue, referring questions
to her statement last month and saying she was concentrating on
preparing for the upcoming season.
In her statement, Portland said Harris was no longer with the
team "because of her performance and attitude in relation to
basketball" and because she "did not meet the level of
commitment" required of players.
The paperwork filed by Harris' attorneys starts the process to
open an official complaint with the state, said agency spokeswoman
Laura Treaster.