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Fisher apologizes for ‘pain, hurt’ among students

For the first time since the exit of Lisa Howe, former women’s soccer coach, President Bob Fisher spoke publicly to the media.

Fisher acknowledged and apologized for the “poor job in communicating” and the “pain, hurt and fear created among our students and community.” In the press conference in the Beaman Student Life Center Wednesday, he also denied sexual orientation had a role in any personnel matter.

“Sexual orientation has not been considered when making hiring, promotion, or dismissal decisions at Belmont,” he said.

The president also acknowledged the variety of students, faculty and staff that comprise the “Belmont family.”

“Belmont is a safe and welcoming place for all. Within our community, there are many gay and lesbian students and gay and lesbian faculty and staff. Every student here is respected and loved,” he said.

Fisher did not specifically mention Howe, who told her players just before Thanksgiving break that she and her same-sex partner were having a child together. A day after classes resumed Nov. 29, Howe was gone.

Players said she was fired and athletics director Mike Strickland said she had “informed the university of her intent to conclude her employment with Belmont.” The next day, the university released another statement, saying that she did not “resign” and she was not “dismissed.” Instead, the action came as a result of a mutual agreement.

In the media statement at 5:30 today—almost exactly a week since Howe’s departure was reported—Fisher said he had received some 400 e-mails in response to Belmont’s actions during the past few days, and plans to respond to each one personally.

He did not take questions after his statement.

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