A former assistant soccer coach at Illinois State University has filed a lawsuit against the school’s head soccer coach and his former athletic director for violating his First Amendment rights.
Kurt Beathard says he was fired after removing a Black Lives Matter poster from his door and replacing it with one that says “All Lives Matter to Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
According to a report by the Chicago Tribune, the BLM sign was placed on his door while he was on leave during late spring and most of the summer of 2020 after the death of his wife from breast cancer.
Although Beathard left the mark for less than two weeks, the lawsuit alleges head coach Brock Spack and then-athletic director Larry Lyons terminated Beathard because “he did not cross the party line over Black Lives Matter.”
Beathard’s lawsuit alleges that he had the right to freely express his views under the First Amendment as an employee of a public university.
When he was fired, they claimed it was because Spack did not like the direction of the offense, but the suit stated that the team achieved national position with its offense in 2014 and 2015 and again in 2018 and 2019.
The Tribune report says that the lawsuit alleges that as tensions on campus increased and the BLM movement was in full swing, “Beathard was approached by Spack and asked to remove the sign he had created from his door.”
“Beathard picked up the poster that day. But a Beathard colleague shared a photo of the poster he recently took. In response, some soccer players boycotted practice, according to the lawsuit. “
A few days later he was fired.
Doug Churdar, Beathard’s lawyer, said in a press release obtained by the Tribune: “It came to this. If you put the government’s message on your door, you keep your job. If you replace it with your own message, you will be fired. This is exactly what happened.”
“There is only one reason why Beathard is not an offensive coordinator at ISU: he did not make the party line on BLM.”