Former USC volleyball coach Mick Haley accuses school of age discrimination and harassment

Former USC women’s volleyball coach Mick Haley accused the school of age discrimination and harassment in a complaint filed Wednesday with the American Arbitration Assn.

“Sadly, as we have seen with so many cases recently, USC and its administrators apparently feel they are above the law and that they can violate the rights of staff and students and then try to cover it up,” Christopher Ludmer, Haley’s San Diego-based attorney, said in a prepared statement.


USC athletic director Lynn Swann announced in December that Haley, 74, wouldn’t return as coach after a season in which USC went 25-10, finished second in the Pac-12 and advanced to a regional final in the NCAA tournament.

Haley went 435-119 during 17 seasons at USC, winning national championships in 2002 and 2003.

USC replaced Haley with Brent Crouch, 43, in January.

USC volleyball player April Ross talks with coach Mick Haley.
USC volleyball player April Ross talks with coach Mick Haley. (Handout)

“We are aware that Mick Haley filed a demand for arbitration today and we are reviewing it,” a school spokesman said.

In the statement, Ludmer alleged that Donna Heinel, USC’s senior associate athletic director, “personally engaged in a campaign to unlawfully harass Haley due to his age.”

Ludmer accused the school of attempting to limit the team’s roster, subjecting Haley to “contrived” criticism and demanding he retire before his five-year contract expired in June, calling him “archaic” and “old.”

The statement said USC “marginalized, demeaned and discriminated” against the coach and he suffered unspecified retaliation after complaining to Swann, Heinel and the school’s diversity and equity office.

The 15-count complaint seeks $2 million in addition to punitive damages and attorneys’ fees.

Haley’s contract included a provision sending most disputes to arbitration rather than court.

Earlier this month, USC prevailed in a long-running arbitration case filed by former football coach Steve Sarkisian over his firing in 2015.