Goshen College Apologizes For Not Hiring Former Student Super Bowl Coach Based On Sexual Orientation

Jan 24, 2020

Katie Sowers. Photo provided by Goshen College.

A Goshen College graduate is going on to be the first woman and openly gay NFL coach to head to the Super Bowl. But her time at the college may not have been as accepting.

Katie Sowers is the offensive assistant coach for the San Francisco 49ers. She’s also the first female and openly gay coach to make it to the Super Bowl.

Sowers graduated from Goshen College in 2009, where she studied physical education, now known as kinesiology.

One of her professors, Dr. Jewel Lehman, remembers Sowers as a driven and dedicated student. She said Sowers is paving the way for other women and the LGBTQ community in the NFL.

“This is clearly a remarkable moment in history made by an extraordinary coach who also happens to be female and gay.”

But Sowers said publicly that she was denied a volunteer coaching position at the school because of her sexual orientation.

Goshen College President Rebecca Stoltzfus said in statement, “Sadly, in 2009, our policies and the laws of Indiana allowed for hiring decisions to consider sexual orientation.”

The 49ers face the Kansas City Chiefs in the Super Bowl on February 2nd. Here is the entire statement from Goshen College President Rebecca Stoltzfus:

"We are very proud of all that our alumna Katie Sowers ’09, an assistant coach for the Super Bowl-bound San Francisco 49ers, has achieved in her life and the ways that she leads on and off the football field with authenticity, grace and excellence. She has publicly shared her journey to coaching, including the barriers she faced related to her sexual orientation when seeking a volunteer coaching position at Goshen College. Sadly, in 2009, our policies and the laws of Indiana allowed for hiring decisions to consider sexual orientation. I am glad that Goshen College adopted a new non-discrimination policy in 2015, and I am thankful for the leaders before me who brought this change about, not the least of whom were our students and alumni.

Our new vision states: “Being rooted in the way of Jesus, we will seek inclusive community and transformative justice in all that we do.” While we cannot go back and change history, justice calls us to stand up now and say that the way Goshen College treated Katie’s offer to coach was hurtful and wrong. I express on behalf of the institution our profound apologies to Katie Sowers and to all others who have not been welcomed here, simply because of who they are. And I want to personally thank all of our students, employees and alumni who call us to be and do better."

Contact Annacaroline at acaruso@wvpe.org or follow her on Twitter at @AnnacarolineC16

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