No Drinking. No Drugs. No Lesbians
April 7, 2010 11:28 AM   Subscribe

Training Rules is a 2009 documentary about the Lady Lions, the Penn State women's basketball program, under Rene Portland.

As for any presence of lesbians on her team, Portland said, "I will not have it in my program," Portland said. "I bring it up and the kids are so relieved and the parents are so relieved. But they would probably go without asking the question otherwise, which is really dumb."

Future WNBA second round draft pick Jennfer Harris lost her starting job, then was denied a continuation of her scholarship, because of her "perceived" homosexuality. She and her family sued the coach and the school, and the suit was settled "amicably," albeit with a gag order. Other players quit, or were forced to live closeted, while in the program.

She suddenly resigned in 2007. The practice of negative recruiting centered around alleged or actual lesbians on rosters and coaching staffs continues.
posted by Danf (15 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
More on this.
posted by Morrigan at 11:56 AM on April 7, 2010

sometimes i feel really, really naive. this is one of those times. I am completely aware that players or coaches could fear the reprecussions of coming out. I wasn't aware someone was out there actively punishing players because their orientation. Really, no pile ons - i understand it was naive. Even here in my backwoods, rural, ultra conservative neck of the woods, the regional university has an out lesbian as an athletic director. I have to wonder if she would have been as accepted as a player as she is now.
posted by domino at 12:11 PM on April 7, 2010

I wonder how many NCAA titles that may have ended up costing Portland and the Lady Lions. I know that, if I were a talented lesbian basketball player, and Portland had bragged to me about her school's policy, I might have casually asked, "So, um, which school do you think has the most lesbians on the team?"
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:18 PM on April 7, 2010

Thanks for the link. I just ordered the film on Amazon based on this post.

It seems from the trailer that Portland does not contribute to the film herself. I would love to hear from her what it was she thought she was doing. It is possible she thought she was being moral in "protecting" students from homosexuality by her actions. It is also possible that it was a self-interested appeal to homophobia - send your athlete daughter to PSU and she won't go gay.

Just wrong in either case. I'm glad she's gone and congratulations to Jennifer Harris for having the guts to take something like this on.
posted by Fiery Jack at 1:28 PM on April 7, 2010

Halloween Jack, this was covered. Her kids played well but played scared, generally. They lost some NCAA games by tanking in crunch time, as scared players will do.

I saw this at U of O last night. There was a panel about it, and one glaring omission was the fact that a fairly out lesbian (in certain circles) was fired as women's hoops coach last year, and replaced with a male former NBA coach. The lack of outstanding players recently has me wondering about negative recruiting used against her.
posted by Danf at 1:30 PM on April 7, 2010

But scared of what, Danf? Losing or being outed? (I'd like to see this film sometime, and will put it in my Netflix queue.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:35 PM on April 7, 2010

Her whole style, I think.
posted by Danf at 1:37 PM on April 7, 2010

I've been following the Rene Portland saga since 1986, both as a women's basketball fan and as a lesbian. I own the DVD of "Training Rules."

Halloween Jack: if Coach Portland, who had players spy on one another's personal lives, learned that a player was gay, she 1) kicked the woman off the team, 2) took away her scholarship, and 3) made sure she wouldn't be able to transfer to another school and play (via the coaches' grapevine.) She threatened to call players' parents and out their daughters.

Sadly, the Women's Basketball Coaches' Association refused to show "Training Rules" in San Antonio, where the women's Final Four just took place. Happily, there is one out Division 1 women's basketball coach, Portland State's Sherri Murrell, who is interviewed in the DVD's extra stuff.
posted by Carol Anne at 2:33 PM on April 7, 2010

What an interesting contrast with the link on Penn's Coach Tressel.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:49 PM on April 7, 2010

Argh, I meant, of course, Ohio's Coach.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:50 PM on April 7, 2010

Carol Anne. . .is VanDerveer the elephant in the room, as far as this discussion goes, these days?
posted by Danf at 3:10 PM on April 7, 2010

Danf: Yes. In 2010 Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer is still slimed on some "fan" boards because of her (nonpublicly announced) sexuality.

"Going Behind the Back - College Recruiters Raise Issue of Sexual Orientation" This Washington Post story is more than seven years old, but still rings true.
posted by Carol Anne at 3:14 PM on April 7, 2010

It's interesting that Oregon fired Bev Smith and replaced her with Paul Westhead, a 70something former NBA coach.

Not that Smith had VanDerveer's success, but still. But her outness is about equal to Tara's as far as I can see.
posted by Danf at 3:18 PM on April 7, 2010

BevSmith was fired after going 123-121 in eight seasons as Oregon's coach. I suspect her win record was the major factor in her losing her job.
posted by Carol Anne at 3:34 PM on April 7, 2010

Coach Portland, who had players spy on one another's personal lives

Judas Priest, that's fucking Stalinesque.
posted by Halloween Jack at 4:28 PM on April 7, 2010

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