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Employee rehired after filing discrimination charges

A USF employee who filed racial discrimination charges against the University in July was rehired earlier this month after the two sides made concessions at a mediation meeting.

Myrtice Landers, who formerly worked in the athletics department as an academic adviser, met with USF administrators for six hours Aug.12 to discuss the charges she filed after being fired for giving $326 worth of textbooks to a female basketball player whom she believed had a scholarship to the school.

Landers will receive the same salary and benefits that she earned before. However, she will now work for the dean of undergraduate studies, developing manuals for other academic advisers.

She was removed from her position and placed on administrative leave July 15 and responded by filing a lawsuit against USF two weeks later. Despite the charges Landers made against the University, it terminated her job Aug. 2 and then placed her back on administrative leave two days later while it reviewed her case, she said.

“At the time of her termination, she let it be known that the action she was alleged of had been committed by everyone else in her position in the office,” said Wil Florin, her attorney for the case. “The others being white academic advisers and she being the only black academic employee.”

Following the mediation, Landers, who has been employed by USF for 29 years and was about 11 months shy of qualifying for retirement benefits, withdrew her charges against the University.

“It was sickening because we’re not oblivious to what’s going on and the fact that it’s still going on,” she said. “But to see it happen in a professional setting was disturbing.”

A statement released by Michael Hoad, university spokesman, said Landers was on paid administrative leave during the mediation process and “will continue to be employed by USF. In order to be fair to Ms. Landers’ long tenure at USF, the University will ensure that she remains an employee until she qualifies for full retirement.”

Hoad also said that “Ms. Landers provided USF with a number of instances where she witnessed violations of NCAA rules for student athletes, and USF will review those instances.”

Landers declined to comment on what evidence she provided during the mediation.

Florin, who also serves as the attorney for former USF football coach Jim Leavitt, who was fired in January over allegations that he slapped a player on the face, said the athlete must now donate the total cost of books she received to charity or repay the University.

In addition, “there is a two-game suspension for the coming school year,” he said.

This is not the first time Landers has butted heads with USF athletics. In 2006, she received disciplinary write-ups because the University determined that she “failed to adequately monitor student progress toward graduation,” and that she “prepared an Academic Regulations Committee (ARC) petition, signed the petition utilizing the student’s name and submitted it on behalf of the student.” The “ARC Representative relied on the student’s signature and approved an inappropriate petition.”

“I am happy to move on,” Landers said, “and (to have) an opportunity to provide a service to the University.”