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Former assistant men's basketball coach files lawsuit

VN Co-Editors

Published: Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Updated: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 18:01

Former assistant men’s basketball coach Carlos Briggs is suing the University of Detroit Mercy, ex-athletic director Keri Gaither and others, claiming he was defamed and unjustly dismissed after blowing the whistle on inappropriate activities.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Wayne County Circuit Court, contends that Briggs was “wrongfully fired” Nov. 1 – a day after Gaither and assistant men’s coach Derek Thomas resigned their positions.

Briggs claims in the suit that during the 2009-10 Titans basketball season he “became aware of information which indicated that Gaither, who was married, was engaged in an ongoing sexual relationship with a male UDM assistant basketball coach, Derek Thomas, who was also married.”

According to the lawsuit, by the end of the 2010-11 basketball season, Gaither had begun “displaying favoritism” toward Thomas.

In addition, the lawsuit stated, after Briggs told Gaither that he was aware of a relationship between her and Thomas, Gaither grew more “hostile” toward Briggs.

Briggs filed “an anonymous complaint to the UDM Whistleblower policy detailing Gaither’s misconduct” on Aug. 26, according to the suit.

After UDM responded, Briggs sat down with Steve Nelson, UDM’s director of human resources, to further explain the alleged misconduct, the suit said.

Briggs said he stressed that he wished to remain anonymous but, according to the lawsuit, Gaither and others discovered that he had made the report.

“UDM either openly disclosed to Gaither that Briggs was the source of the report against her or revealed sufficient information such that it was apparent that Briggs had made the report,” the lawsuit stated.

In addition, the suit also claims that Mort Meisner, a media consultant in the Detroit market, “acting on behalf of UDM and Gaither, made false, defamatory and unprivileged statements to third parties, denigrating Mr. Briggs’ professional reputation and background.”

Since the firing and resignations, UDM officials have declined to comment on the matter.

The Varsity News sought comment from media relations director Gary Lichtman late Wednesday afternoon, but at press time had yet to receive a response.

Gathier and Michael Stefani, Briggs’ lawyer, also were unavailable for comment.

Through the suit, Briggs is seeking damages greater than $25,000.

His tenure as a Titan assistant coach predates the days of coach Ray McCallum, who came to UDM in 2008.

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