John Harris, Gopher golf director, resigns amid lesbian lawsuit

Harris says the timing is coincidence.

Harris says the timing is coincidence.

Amid allegations of discrimination, the University of Minnesota's golf director announced Friday he plans to resign.

John Harris, who has been with the college only a year, is accused of not allowing former assistant coach Katie Brenny to do her job after finding out she is a lesbian. Brenny is suing Harris for $200,000. The trial is set for this December.

Harris says he's leaving to spend more time with his family, and the timing is pure coincidence.

"My wife and I are looking forward to spending more time on travels and pursuits that are not so focused on golf," said Harris in a statement. "I feel that it is best for the University of Minnesota and the golf program for another coach to move forward to build on the current positive performance momentum in the program."

The accusations against Harris were first reported by the Minnesota Daily last December.

After hiring Brenny last year, Harris didn't allow her to fulfill most of her duties as associate coach, including traveling with the team and even discussing golf with players, according to the Daily.

Instead, Ernie Rose -- a team staff member who happened to be Harris's son-in-law -- took over most of the coaching duties, according to the Daily. Rose didn't have a bachelor's degree, so wasn't eligible to for the coaching position.

Brenny resigned after two months on the job. She filed the lawsuit in January.

The U of M isn't commenting beyond the prepared statement, but Harris tells the Pioneer Press he believes his decision to leave is being unfairly tied to the lawsuit.

"If anyone assumes my decision is based on the Brenny case, they would be mistaken," he told the Pi-Press. "I have been defamed unfairly, I believe, by Ms. Brenny and her law firm for financial gain and as part of an effort to obtain publicity for themselves."

Harris's resignation is effective July 1, says Garry Bowman, spokesman for the Gophers.