Former football coach sues for wrongful termination over ‘All Lives Matter' sign

Kurt Beathard was terminated from his position as offensive coordinator for Illinois State University on September 2, 2021.

Beathard’s lawsuit alleges he was fired due to putting a sign on his office door that read 'all lives matter to our lord and savior Jesus Christ.'

On August 11, a motion by Illinois State University’s (ISU) athletic administrators to dismiss former offensive coordinator Kurt Beathard’s lawsuit against ISU for wrongful termination was denied. 

Beathard’s lawsuit alleges he was fired by Heach Coach Brock Spack over a sign Beathard put on his office door with the phrase “All Lives Matter To Our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ.” The sign replaced a Black Lives Matter poster Beathard found had been placed on his door.

The defendants include former Athletic Director Larry Lyons, Head Coach Spack, and current Athletic Director Kyle Brennan

They requested a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, alleging that the “[p]laintiff was acting in his official job duties in placing the replacement poster on his door” and so “is not entitled to First Amendment protections,” according to the lawsuit.  

Judge Shadid, who authored the opinion, disagreed, stating, “The Court does not find that Plaintiff’s actions were taken in furtherance of his official job duties. In putting up the replacement poster, Plaintiff was expressing his personal views, which in no way ‘owed their existence’ to his responsibilities as a public employee.”

ISU declined to comment on pending litigation. 

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Campus Reform previously reported on the initial controversy surrounding Beathard’s sign. 

In August 2020, the ISU Athletics department handed out signs with BLM messages, and one ended up on Beathard’s door. In response, Beathard took the sign down and replaced it with the aforementioned sign.

On August 29, 2020, Spack asked Beathard to take his sign down, after which, Beathard did remove it. However, on September 2, 2020, Beathard was terminated from his position as offensive coordinator by Spack because he “didn’t like the direction of the offense.” 

Beathard was then moved to a research position to determine “how other football coaches handled COVID-19.”

However, the lawsuit contends Lyons fired him because he did not publicly support BLM and for putting up his own sign, violating Beathard’s First Amendment rights.

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Campus Reform has previously reported on the censoring of faculty and students’ viewpoints after the Black Lives Matter movement was in full swing. 

In October 2021, a former professor at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) filed a lawsuit after being suspended for refusing to implement a “no harm grading policy” for his black students.

Auburn University’s student government denied a student a chance to serve in his student government because of his Christian and conservative views, one of which was his condemnation of the BLM movement for celebrating the deaths of police officers. 

Similarly, in 2020 Suffolk University’s newspaper, The Suffolk Journalbanned “any piece” that supports racism and pledged to “use [their] platform as a way to bring attention to the Black Lives Matter movement and racial justice.”

One of the examples of racism the paper gave was an article they ran condemning the riots of 2020. 

Campus Reform reached out to Illinois State University, Coach Spack, AD Brennan, Beathard, and the best attempt was made to contact Lyons. This article will be updated accordingly.

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