Belmont Coach Speaks About Firing

By Michelle Garcia

Originally published on Advocate.com December 06 2010 7:25 PM ET

Belmont University's outgoing women's soccer coach said she would prefer not to be in the spotlight after news broke last week that she may have been pressured to leave her job after revealing to administrators that she is a lesbian.

Lisa Howe said she would not comment directly about whether she was indeed pressured to leave her job by athletic director Mike Strickland after telling him that her partner is pregnant, but she said she had a fulfilling tenure at Belmont, located in Nashville.

"I was a good student athlete recruiter, had an organized and professionally run program, and was one of Belmont's best employees," Howe said Monday in a statement issued by her attorney. "None of that changed when I acknowledged that I am a lesbian and that my partner and I are expecting a baby. I am proud of who I am and my family and our future, and I want every person -- no matter what race, religion, nationality, or sexuality they represent -- to feel the same way. Yes, I would have preferred to not be in the headlines, but if my situation leads to one person beginning to feel acceptance now, or one person becoming more understanding of diversity, and if people can talk openly and honestly about topics they never broached before, then this unfortunate situation will have served a positive purpose."

Last week, it was reported that Howe was pressured to leave after she told Strickland that her partner was due to give birth in May 2011. Once she revealed the news, team members told The Tennessean, Howe was told to either leave her position or be fired.

Howe added that throughout her 17-year career, she ran a quality team and recruited fine student athletes. She also said she is grateful for the support she's received from others after the story of her situation became public last week.