Pete Dolan claims he was wrongfully fired last May after 32 years as coach of UCSB’s cross country and track and field teams. A lawsuit against the university alleges five violations, including age discrimination, retaliation, and breach of contract. It was filed November 1 in Santa Barbara Superior Court.
Dolan seeks compensatory damages because “he was treated unfairly and had his reputation tarnished,” said Eric Gans, one of the attorneys representing the former coach.
Dolan, 58, was placed on administrative leave throughout the 2018 track and field season. It was not until May 15 that John McCutcheon, UCSB’s director of athletics, informed him of allegations by several former athletes that he had subjected them to verbal and psychological abuse. Dolan denied wrongdoing but was notified of his termination two days later, which suggested that his firing was a foregone conclusion.
In a press release announcing Dolan’s civil complaint, lead counsel Charles “Chip” Oxton headlined that UCSB conducted a “sham investigation.”
McCutcheon declined to comment.
Oxton and Gans share a law office in Santa Barbara. Also on Dolan’s legal team is Damian Capozzola of Los Angeles. Gans and Capozzola are former UCSB student-athletes who were both coached by Dolan, winning conference championships in cross country and track.
“Their experience with Pete was universally positive,” Oxton said, adding they were representative of “scores of athletes” who competed under Dolan’s guidance. He coached the Gauchos to 13 Big West team titles, 11 in cross country and two in track and field.