What seemed like a simple statement about family togetherness has become a lightning rod in the world of Division I women's college basketball.
Robin Pingeton, the new women's basketball coach at the University of Missouri, said in her first press conference April 8, "I'm very blessed to have my staff here. This is something very unique, I think, for Division I women's basketball to have a staff that the entire staff is married with kids. Family is important to us, and we live it every day."
Pingeton, 41, who calls herself "a Christian who happens to be a coach," has taken heat from gay rights bloggers who watch college athletics, reported Inside Higher Ed this week. Helen Carroll of the National Center for Lesbian Rights said Pingeton's comments were meant to "subtly prov[e] that everyone in their program was straight," and that mentioning her faith "was yet again, a subtle way of saying being lesbian or being gay would be against religious values and isn't what our program is about."
Pat Griffin, University of Massachusetts professor emerita, wrote on her LGBT sports blog:
[Pingeton's] husband and son were at the press conference as were her proud aunt and uncle. Nothing unusual about that. Family is often present to celebrate professional achievements (unless, of course, the family is a same-sex partner). But then she goes on to make sure we know that heterosexual marital status is important to her by noting that all of her assistants are married with children …. [Y]ou have to wonder what kind of team climate she will promote for student-athletes who are not Christian or who are not heterosexual.
The backlash to Pingeton's comments makes sense only in the context of women's college basketball's "long and persistent ...1
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