Soccer Coach Sued
Trouble in the Family
For 17 years, Anson Dorrance has dominated women's soccer, coaching North Carolina to 15 national championships and the U.S. to the '91 World Cup title. On Aug. 25, however, the 47-year-old Dorrance was named as the central figure in a sexual-harassment lawsuit that has rocked the sport and threatens to rupture the national team less than a year before the U.S. is to host the Women's World Cup.
Dorrance denies the allegations in the civil suit, which was filed by two former Tar Heels: Debbie Keller, 23, the '96 college player of the year and a forward on the American team, and Melissa Jennings, 19, a backup goalkeeper at North Carolina from '96 to '98. Keller, the U.S.'s second-leading goal scorer this year, is vying to start on a team whose nucleus is made up largely of former Tar Heels, including stars Mia Hamm, Kristine Lilly and Carla Overbeck. Says Over-beck, "I've known Anson for 14 years, and everything he has done has always been very professional."
Because of the suit, Keller will be in litigation with a teammate when the national team gathers in Boston on Sept. 7 to prepare for this month's U.S. Women's Cup tournament. Backup keeper Tracy Ducar, a North Carolina assistant coach, is among the 10 current and former university employees named as defendants. To head off conflict, national coach (and former Dorrance assistant on the U.S. team) Tony DiCicco said last week that he planned to meet with a lawyer for the U.S. Soccer Federation to consider whether he should rescind the invitations to Keller and/or Ducar to join the team.
According to Keller's lawyer, Louis Varchetto, the case likely won't be resolved in court until after the World Cup or perhaps even the 2000 Olympics. National team members could be called as witnesses for both sides. "A lot of players grew up under Anson's tutelage and think the world of him," DiCicco says. "At the same time we have players who sympathize with what Debbie is going through. There's some healing that's going to have to be done."
NBA Coaching Changes
Why Start the Carousel Now?
The Milwaukee Bucks and Sacramento Kings didn't get where they are—which, almost every May, is the NBA lottery—by making savvy decisions, but the recent firings of their coaches after two months of a lockout that has no end in sight were curious moves even for them. Milwaukee's Chris Ford and Sacramento's Eddie Jordan hadn't lost a game since April. So what exactly did they do to warrant the ax? Steal office supplies?
The Bucks, at least, redeemed themselves a few days after dismissing Ford last week by replacing him with George Karl, who helped turn the Seattle Super-Sonics into a tide contender. But it would take Freud to find a method to the Kings' madness in firing Jordan, who was given only one full season to turn around a Sacramento mess that has been years in the making.
The Kings had no A-list coach waiting in the wings to take over. One of the leading candidates for the job is Los Angeles Lakers four-year assistant Kurt Rambis, a former player with no head-coaching experience—a description that also fit Jordan when he took over in Sacramento with 15 games left in the 1996-97 season. Rambis, inexplicably, may even have his choice of jobs; the Los Angeles Clippers, an even more woeful franchise than the Bucks or the Kings, have also shown interest in him.
It's difficult to understand why someone with credentials as modest as Rambis's could start the coaching carousel turning, but it's even harder to fathom why Sacramento suddenly felt the need to fire Jordan, since he is presumably no worse a coach than he was when the season ended. The only thing that's clear is that if Rambis winds up as a coach, he should learn from the fates of Jordan and Ford and realize that the ax will surely fall on him too someday, whether he deserves it or not.