Share This Page

Seton Hill asks federal judge to dismiss suit by former field hockey players

| Tuesday, July 15, 2014, 11:09 a.m.

A federal judge will decide whether abuse, rather than coaching style, is the central issue in a lawsuit filed by two former field hockey players against Seton Hill University.

Attorneys for the liberal arts school have asked a judge to dismiss the complaint or force the plaintiffs to refile the lawsuit and be more specific in their allegations, according to a motion filed in federal court in Pittsburgh.

Shannon Litvin of Long Island, N.Y., and Lauren Schumacher of Patuxent, Md., allege they were verbally and physically abused by field hockey coaches during their time on the team, according to a suit.

Named as defendants are: head coach Whitney Harness and assistants Gillian Hilbert and Joanna Pichardo; then-acting university President Bibiano Boerio; athletic director Christopher Snyder; NCAA compliance officer Bruce Ivory; Title IX compliance officer Darlene Sauers; and Vice President of Affirmative Action Lois Sculco.

The women allege administrators failed to do anything about the alleged abuse, according to the suit.

Livtin said she was discriminated against because she has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, but the attorney for the university said Litvin wasn't diagnosed with the disability until after she quit the team in 2013.

Attorney Paul Mazeski of Pittsburgh, who represents Seton Hill, said the allegations are that the coaches “yelled,” “mocked,” and “punished” the women with additional physical conditioning.

“Simply put, the alleged conduct complained of by the plaintiffs falls well short of any actionable claim,” he wrote.

The allegations, he continued, “do not rise to the requisite level of atrocity, nor does she allege a physical injury.”

Mazeski wants a judge to either dismiss the suit or force the plaintiffs to file a more specific complaint.

The suit alleges that the women were subjected to humiliation and excessive training, which the suit contends is a violation of NCAA rules.

Richard Gazarik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6292 or at rgazarik@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.