Howe says Belmont used emailed statement without her knowledge

Thursday, December 16, 2010 at 1:10am

Former Belmont University women’s soccer coach Lisa Howe said Wednesday a statement within an email message she sent to a co-worker was later used without her knowledge in a release sent by the university announcing her resignation two weeks ago.

Howe, who told her team a week before her departure from Belmont that her same-sex partner was having a baby, said she was unaware the university was going to use that statement in the release. The next day, on Dec. 3, Belmont issued another release, saying that Howe had not resigned but that the two parties had reached a mutual agreement to conclude her employment with the university.

“I was ready to move on because of circumstances beyond my control about which I cannot speak,” Howe said in a statement her attorney Abby Rubenfeld emailed to The City Paper on Wednesday. “I phrased that statement very carefully so [as] not to bring any negative attention to me or Belmont. Then, I sent the statement to a co-worker in the athletic department, not an administrator or a major media publication. I thought I was doing what was best for my future. I did not realize Belmont would use it in the manner that they have.”

Belmont spokesperson Greg Pillon issued the following statement Wednesday night: “Lisa Howe provided the statement to Belmont’s media relations director for women’s sports. We believe we used the statement in the matter in which it was intended.”

When asked last week if that was the first time Howe had heard of her resignation — when the statement on Dec. 2 was released to the media — Rubenfeld said, “That I don’t know.”

“I can’t really talk about any of the details, but she did not resign,” Rubenfeld said. “And the university corrected that error in the second statement that they issued to the press, with our approval, that it was a mutual decision for her to leave.”

Rubenfeld reiterated Wednesday in a phone interview that “there is no resignation letter statement from Lisa Howe because she did not resign.”

Since Howe’s exit, responses from Belmont students, alums and donors, and from Nashville residents and politicians, have grown daily.

On Monday, Metro Councilmen Jamie Hollin and Mike Jameson announced they plan to file an ordinance that would rescind the city’s lease agreement with Belmont University for the use of Rose Park. The proposed bill cites “actions recently taken by Belmont University concerning the termination of the women’s soccer coach, presumably as a result of her sexual orientation” as the reason for rescinding the agreement. In order to use Rose Park under the bill, Belmont would have to put in writing a non-discrimination policy that protects employees based on sexual orientation.

Then on Tuesday, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean sent letters to the chairs of several boards, commissions and authorities asking them to adopt policies to ban employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Dean did not mention Belmont in his letters but sent one to Convention Center Authority chairman Marty Dickens. Dickens, who is also the chairman of Belmont’s board of trustees, made news when he told The Tennessean, “We (Belmont) do adhere to our values as Christ-centered, and we don’t want to make apologies for that.”

“I have never spoken to the mayor but… I am just so encouraged by this issue coming to the forefront and people saying, ‘Yeah, we should not discriminate against all groups, really,’” Howe said on Wednesday. “It is surprising to think that I am a little bit of a catalyst for that. But I do think we are overdue for change or overdue for that wording in our policies. I’m not shocked by it but I am surprised to have a personal role in it.”

Howe, who coached six years at Belmont and had a winning record, said she will be featured in a piece on Sunday that will air on ESPN’s Outside the Lines and will do a talk radio interview on Saturday.

Along with responding to numerous interview requests, Howe said she is going to begin sending her resume for job openings.

“I am looking at some other college soccer jobs and I am looking at stuff within Nashville to try to stay within the area,” Howe said. “I feel like we have a support system to help us start a family and start with a baby. Gosh, the outpouring of support really makes Nashville feel like home. It would be hard to get up and leave.”

Howe said last week that she would consider working at Belmont again if the school offered her job back. As of Wednesday, though, Howe said, “No one from Belmont has reached out to me.” 

86 Comments on this post:

By: courier37027 on 12/16/10 at 12:43

Someone please correct me if I am wrong, but unless she wrote CONFIDENTIAL on subject line or somewhere in letter, as an employee her email is Belmont University property. I would think with NCAA compliance issues athletic departments are more closely monitored for phone, email, letters, coach-to-athlete communications.

By: suellen on 12/16/10 at 1:46

I am struck by Marty Dickenson's comment, “We (Belmont) do adhere to our values as Christ-centered, and we don’t want to make apologies for that.” Which Christ? Certainly Dickenson does not refer to the Christ in the New Testament who befriended men and women rejected by the society of the day. I suspect that Jesus would be insulted by the implication that he would condone such un-Christlike behavior of firing someone whose sexuality is unacceptable to the Belmont Christians. I grow weary of "Christians" like Dickenson, who use their so-called Christianity as a paltry justification for their very unChristian practice of judging and discriminationg against others!

I wish Lisa Howe and her partner all the best.


By: MetalMan on 12/16/10 at 5:13

WWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! Cry me a freaking river. I'm sick of hearing about Belmont firing their lesbian kick ball coach. Find another gig at a queer-friendly school and move on!

By: junglejim on 12/16/10 at 6:14

If Howe wanted to stay at Belmont she should have kept her mouth shut and carried on. But, she wanted to get a lawsuit started so she opened up about her girlfriend and her having a baby. How sickening....this world is going to hell in a hand basket. I bet she has a good time when all the girls hit the showers after a game. my my my

By: spooky24 on 12/16/10 at 6:26

It's is amazing how some people think they have the right to change the rules for a private business. I stand up to Belmont for making sure the rules are enforced.
Just more of the 'Gimme' generation riding on the train wreck that is political correctness
It's over! move on!!!


By: xhexx on 12/16/10 at 7:25

Queers just want to ruin everything for everyone if they don't get their way.

By: cali2360 on 12/16/10 at 7:29

I'm sorry, but I believe the same God is in both books of the Bible. Read It. I also believe that the New Testament writers condemned this behavior too. A Christian establishment is set up to adhere to standards that are not of the world and that behavior is very worldly. Christ accepts all, but you have to read and realized that you have to repent of sin and come back to his teachings not just accept the gift and continue your life. This coach is making a big deal out of a initial agreement because of the media and left-wing attention she is getting. Accept your original plan and move on.

By: yogiman on 12/16/10 at 7:31


May I ask you a stupid question? Your negative comment about
Belmont is understandable when issued by some people, but my question is; WHY IN THE HELL DID LISA HOWE ANNOUNCE HER HOMOSEXUALITY TO THE GIRLS ON HER TEAM?

By: manicsquirrel on 12/16/10 at 7:45

@yogiman and all others that have questioned why Lisa Howe would "out" herself to her team and faculty by announcing that she and her partner were having a baby:

Would you take issue if Lisa Howe were heterosexual and married to a man and announced to the team and faculty that she and her husband were having a baby? No. You wouldn't and I would also say that if you were her co-worker in that situation not only would you have congratulated her but you might also be expecting an invitation to the baby shower.

Why then should it be any different if she is married to a woman? It shouldn't. Why should she have to hide her joy when heterosexuals get to share theirs? She shouldn't have to.

True, government should not tell a private corporation how to run their business. However, government has the right and responsibility not to encourage or condone behavior which is contrary to the equality of all of the community by providing resources or services to a corporation that excludes part of the community.

By: govskeptic on 12/16/10 at 7:47

It's about time to move on from this overexposured story. The
lady reached an agreement on leaving Belmont with the
administration. Now, Mrs. Rubenfeld has gotten into the story
with all the ACLU objections and has opened the still confused
story to make it one sided as can be for Ms. Howe. Is this just
for a lawsuit and to poison the local jury pool if there is to be
such a case?

By: HokeyPokey on 12/16/10 at 7:56

Now, see, there you go.

I'll bet her momma didn't make her lunch every day before school and spank her if she didn't eat it all and ate junk food instead.

There's your answer right there.

And "Mrs. Rubenfeld," skeptic? Under which rock do you live, son?


By: commiekiller1 on 12/16/10 at 8:18

The school can fire gay teachers. The Mayor is a clown. I am tired of this PC, MC, LGBT BS. Dean you are a clown, and; the school is a religious school- not a gay oriented school.

These days the minority is the white straight male..

By: slacker on 12/16/10 at 8:23

Andy Warhol was right about that 15 minutes of fame stuff.

By: govskeptic on 12/16/10 at 8:26

Sorry, Pee Wee's sister is a Ms.

By: budlight on 12/16/10 at 8:36

Howe needs her own show: reality show? Sit-com? Day time drama? Expose'?

She "outed" so she could retire. She'll get a big settlement and then get to invest and be a stay at home mom. OR dad.

Who cares? She stirred the pot and got the stew she wanted.

By: yogiman on 12/16/10 at 8:37


Obviously you don't know me, or the others who oppose the announcement of a person's homosexuality preferences. Especially when announcing they are "having" a baby. Hell, who's the "daddy" of that baby? It used to be, unless they were a single woman have a "surprise" baby, other mothers always wanted the world to know who their baby's father was. Has your society changed so much in today's social behavior? Mine hasn't.

You're right, we probably would congratulate here if she were going to be the mother of that baby and was married to a man, not a woman. Homosexual marriage is not accepted in the USA.

And why are the homosexuals so adamant about disclosing their sexual desires? Who's damn business is it but their own. Why is the homosexual population of our nation today bringing this to such a national episode today? It has to have something to do with politics and the ultimate end to our nation as we use to have it.

Why did God put "man" and "WOMAN" on this earth. He made males and females to keep the population of the world growing. Hell, no two men can have a baby, why should two women be aloud? That's discrimination all the way to the bank.

By: kynana on 12/16/10 at 8:38

suellen, I am sick of people who make comments on how they think Jesus feels about anything. Do you have the mind of Christ? God made Adam and when he gave him a partner, He didn't ask whether he wanted a man or a woman. I'm not even going to go into the numerous scriptures against homosexuality. Ms. Howe has had her 15 minutes and accomplished what she set out to do. The ONLY question is did she sign on with Belmont knowing their policies? If so, she is wrong, wrong, wrong.
As for Christians judging, if you knew scripture at all, you would know that God says Christians are the ONLY ones who can judge sin here on earth. You think He will allow a heathen (lost person) to speak for Him?
All of the people who are taking up for Ms. Howe, government officials, "power" people etc. are at the same time going against God. While God has love for everyone, His word tells us very plainly, He HATES sins.

By: left on 12/16/10 at 8:39

GOD will always love the person, and always hate the sin. She was and will always be wrong, until she changes her life style.

By: commiekiller1 on 12/16/10 at 8:39

The school is Christian. For you progressive weirdos the Bible does not say for man to lay with man or women to lay with women. Now, get off this . Coach hit the showers for good.

By: Alphadog7 on 12/16/10 at 9:01


Let's suppose she was fired for her lifestyle... (which no one is actually sure of)

I get so tired of this argument. To befriend men and women rejected by society does not mean you have to give them a job and put them in an position of an authority. It is possible to fire someone and love them and wish the best for them.

Yes Jesus got the woman at the well off the hook with the mob and said the oft-quoted "let he who is without sin cast the first stone" and told her he didn't condemn her, but he also said "go and sin no more". How unChristian of Jesus to judge and discriminate and expect her to change her ways and not just accept her as she was! (sarcasm)

I just don't see how we go from "Love thy neighbor" to "employ them unconditionally" but that's just my opinion.

By: gdiafante on 12/16/10 at 9:04

I still can't believe people still quote a text that was written when Man thought the Earth was the center of the universe.

Just make sure you start off your fairy tale with "once upon a time"

By: Alphadog7 on 12/16/10 at 9:15

Actually its "In the beginning..."

By: dogmrb on 12/16/10 at 9:17

The Old Testament and the New are basically Jewish law and middle eastern tribal laws, not Christian.

By: HokeyPokey on 12/16/10 at 9:26

Amen, gdia, amen dogmrb.


By: pswindle on 12/16/10 at 9:29

Boy, the Bible loving two-faced people are coming out of the woodwork. Howe was done wrong. What difference does ist make who she is? She is a good person that loves her partner. I know a lot of straight marraiges that can't say that. How many Belmont administrative members are in the closet.

By: global_citizen on 12/16/10 at 9:39

Man, if I was the owner or publisher of the City Paper, I would hang my head in shame that I have so many ignorant readers filled with such baseless hatred.

junglejim - question for you. What lawsuit??? Howe has not filed a lawsuit, genius. And your insinuation that she did anything inappropriate with her team (a team that has vocally supported her, by the way) is just showing what an ignorant redneck dirtbag you are.

MetalMan - it's soccer, not kick ball. Do you know the difference, you brilliant man?

spooky - how is Howe trying to "change the rules"? and what rules are you referring to? Belmont has never had anything in it's employment information addressing homosexuality. You're making ASSumptions that aren't true.

To everyone who is saying she "should have kept her mouth shut" or that she's "announcing her sexuality"... please grow up and quit being the George Wallace of your generation. No one is expected to live in a silo and NOT talk about their personal life.

To the degree that Ms. Howe has done that up to this point is impressive, but also sad. Quit being such pathetically narcissistic twits that you think the world has to accommodate you and keep their lives hidden just so your overly sensitive feelings aren't offended. News flash: You're not that important and the world doesn't revolve around you.

And to kynana, who thinks she knows the bible... not only does the bible NOT say Christians are fit to judge others, the bible actually says "Judge not, lest you be judged." Where do you go to church?

By: Alphadog7 on 12/16/10 at 9:47

Nothing for me? Aw man, I feel left out...

By: dogmrb on 12/16/10 at 9:52

OK, Alpha: "it's" not "its"

By: trtay2004 on 12/16/10 at 9:54

If you perform your job well, you shouldn't be 'retired'. This is not about whether homosexuality is right or wrong... only God (and not the Church or False Christian Organizations) will conclude. If Belmont did not release her for her sexuality, then why won't they release the reason? Why? Because it was based on her sexuality. The same as people used to be hated and rejected because they were Black, Jews, Catholics, or even female. If organizations want to abide by their rules, I think they should. But, the rest of the public and government organizations owe it to the tax payers NOT to support or give funds to these organizations.

By: kynana on 12/16/10 at 10:11


Perhaps I should have clarified for the self righteous.....We are the only ones who can judge other Christians. I am not judging Ms. Howe. I am sticking up for the RIGHT of her employer to dismiss her if she DID NOT abide by their rules. Every employer has that right. (except for the ones run by unions)

This is an issue that has confused many people. On one hand, we are commanded by the Lord Jesus, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matthew 7:1). On the other hand, the Bible also exhorts us to beware of evildoers and false prophets and to avoid those who practice all kinds of evil.
How are we to discern who these people are if we do not make some kind of judgment about them?

Christians are often accused of "judging" whenever they speak out against a sinful activity. However, that is not the meaning of the Scripture verses that state, "Do not judge." There is a righteous kind of judgment we are supposed to exercise—with careful discernment (John 7:24). When Jesus told us not to judge (Matthew 7:1), He was telling us not to judge hypocritically. What Jesus was condemning here was hypocritical, self-righteous judgments of others.

By: yogiman on 12/16/10 at 10:14

That's the point, pswindle, they are keeping it in the closet. Why didn't Howe?

By: Alphadog7 on 12/16/10 at 10:15

Dogmrb, thanks. Way to keep me in line. ;-)

By: HokeyPokey on 12/16/10 at 10:37

kynana, at what point did you establish that Howe is not a Christian and therefore exempt from your judgement?


Oh, and throwing in the anti-union comment just throws another unflattering spotlight on you, dearie.

By: pswindle on 12/16/10 at 10:42

I sure have said that they haven't been caught, yet. But they will. I admire Howe for being honest.

By: pswindle on 12/16/10 at 10:44

I misspelled should. It is should and not sure. I can't always catch my own typing errors.

By: yogiman on 12/16/10 at 11:05


It looks like we are all going down different lanes in an attempt to get to the same location.

Let me explain; I have had homosexual friends since I learned of 'what they were' in my childhood. But they didn't go around bragging about it.

I know the world is changing ever day the sun comes up, but why has, all of a sudden, the homosexuals, world wide, have 'come out of the closet' to announce their homosexuality? Should we, the "normal" people just say; "Welcome to the club, y'all, come on in and have a great time?"

By: global_citizen on 12/16/10 at 11:08

"I am sticking up for the RIGHT of her employer to dismiss her if she DID NOT abide by their rules."

What rules, kynana? Did you read my whole post or just look for your own name, you narcissist? Belmont's employment information says nothing at all about sexual orientation. So I ask again, what "rules" are you referring to?

By: matahari on 12/16/10 at 11:09

belmont's rule is that their employees and students can't engage in premarital sex. i'm pretty sure ms howe didn't get her partner pregnant.

By: oldsouthernlady on 12/16/10 at 11:16

I must really be getting old. I cannot remember which commandment makes homosexuality a sin. Oh, that's right -- NONE of them! God must not have thought it a big deal. And Christ is never quoted about it. One of his disciples says he was against homosexuality, but the others are mum on the subject. Sounds like one of the disciples had a personal agenda. Sounds like these homophobic, holy-than-anyone-else-on-the-planet "Christians" are just bigots in christian clothing.

By: budlight on 12/16/10 at 11:44

pswindle on 12/16/10 at 9:29
Boy, the Bible loving two-faced people are coming out of the woodwork. Howe was done wrong.

So Swin, what do you say about athiests who don't support homosexuals? Are they two-faced also?

Howe is going to get a big $$ settlement. Bet 'cha!

By: Nitzche on 12/16/10 at 11:57

I guess Rick Byrd could coach tonight's game in Drag, and who is Belmont to reprimand him for his transgenderness?

By: not_guilty on 12/16/10 at 12:21

Why should anyone in this century presume to speak for Jesus as to whether same sex orientation is sinful? Was "the disciple whom Jesus loved", to whom the Gospel of John repeatedly refers, male or female?

The author of that gospel account does note that "there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written." John 21:25 KJV. The fact is, scripture does not record Jesus's own orientation. How is for present day Christians to presume to speak for Jesus anything other than blasphemy?

By: HokeyPokey on 12/16/10 at 12:30

Try "Paul Reubens," skeptic.

By: Alphadog7 on 12/16/10 at 12:53

not_guilty, So you implying that Jesus and John were gay? And you think its blasphemous to discuss what Jesus meant when he said certain things? Oooookay...

By: not_guilty on 12/16/10 at 2:05

I am not opining about Jesus's orientation. I am asserting that the writers of the Gospel did not see fir to record that information. The inference that I draw from that omission is that is irrelevant.

And I do regard mortals presuming to speak for the Deity as bordering on blasphemy, but that is just my opinion.

By: not_guilty on 12/16/10 at 2:25

Excuse me. That should be "did not see fit".

By: yogiman on 12/16/10 at 3:47


The main point is; who gives a damn what anyone's, other than themselves, sexual desires are? And the main question is; why are they broadcasting it? Why, after all of these centuries it has been kept quiet but all of a sudden they are boasting about it.

Every homosexual I have talked to in my learning years always seemed to regret being one. Did God make them one? Did the raising by their parents cause it? Did their personality cause it? No one seems to know. But I'll say again, why do they want the world to know about it? Other than a fellow homosexual, who gives a damn?

By: manicsquirrel on 12/16/10 at 4:16

How did this conversation devolve into religion? I thought this situation dealt with civil rights and possible employment discrimination.

By: cw1230 on 12/16/10 at 4:19

Best wishes to Lisa and her partner on the birth of their new child. Another school will be blessed to have you. It's terrible the way they treated you, but it's inspiring to see the changes that your situation may be bringing to many of us here in Nashville.

To thine own self be true. ~ William Shakespeare

By: cw1230 on 12/16/10 at 4:25

Srsly, yogi? You must be hanging around a bunch of self-hating gay folks or maybe you work for some ex-gay ministry, but that hasn't been my experience and considering that I am gay AND Christian AND one of these horrible gay people that DARE to talk about our families and our lives openly, then I think I may know a bit more about it than you.

And really, how did you get to something like this "The main point is; who gives a damn what anyone's, other than themselves, sexual desires are?" about a story having to do with a woman and her female partner starting a family? Trust me, there's not a whole lot of sexual desire going on when syringes are involved, but what there is a WHOLE lot of is...LOVE.

I don't guess you'd understand that though.

To thine own self be true. ~ William Shakespeare