Former professional football player Kelvin Edwards says that Liberty University wrongfully removed him from a six-figure posting because its acting president “doesn’t care about diversity.”
A former professional football player has filed a lawsuit against Liberty University, accusing the private Christian college of racial discrimination.
According to The Associated Press, the federal lawsuit was filed Friday by Kelvin Edwards, who played football for Liberty before signing with the Dallas Cowboys and New Orleans Saints.
Edwards, notes The A.P., had been hired by Liberty to help lead diversity initiatives. However, the former NFL player claims he was discriminated against. In his lawsuit, Edwards asserts that Liberty University’s actions ran afoul of both the federal Civil Rights Act and the Virginia Human Rights Act.
Now, Edwards is seeking at least $8 million in damages and other compensation.
The Religion News Service reports that Edwards was hired on a 10-yaer contract, the terms of which granted him an annual salary of $275,000, a $1,500-per-month car allowance, and other generous benefits.
While Edwards was purportedly close with Liberty University’s founding Falwell family, his role came under scrutiny after Jerry Falwell, Jr., submitted his resignation.
Mere weeks after both Edwards began working and Falwell Jr. left his post, acting university president Jerry Prevo told him that there was some “confusion” about his role.
“It became clear that Prevo did not believe in diversity efforts based at Liberty,” the lawsuit says. “In fact, during that same time frame, Mr. Edwards heard Prevo comment there were ‘too many people’ in diversity and inclusion.”
Edwards’ complaint further observes that, of Liberty University’s 28 executives and other senior administrators, only two are African-American.
Liberty University has since maintained that it does value diversity, but did not believe that Edwards’ prior experience merited such a large salary and generous benefits.
:Liberty University rejects the claims of Kelvin Edwards and will prove them false through the legal process. The University and its president are fully committed to racial and ethnic inclusion and diversity throughout Liberty, including on its faculty, in its student body and staff, and on its executive team,” the school said in a statement.
“Upon becoming acting president, Jerry Prevo evaluated the executive team and concluded that among his predecessor’s mistakes was the hiring of Mr. Edwards to be an Executive Vice President of Management Efficiencies and Diversity. Efforts to work with Mr. Edwards to find an alternative role for which he was qualified with a reasonable compensation package were unfruitful,” it added. Mr. Edwards insisted on retaining the executive role with no change in compensation. Liberty offered to compensate him for returning to Texas, the inconvenience of the false start, and the transition time. Mr. Edwards refused. He demanded five years’ salary with no work, which Liberty simply cannot pay under governing law.”