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The Irony With Lawsuit By Robin Van Ert Against UW-Madison Officials

November 27, 2016

UPDATEA federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed against UW-Madison officials by a woman who was romantically linked to former men’s basketball coach Bo Ryan, finding that her constitutional rights were not violated by the school’s investigation into her relationship with Ryan or by the release of her 2015 email accusing Ryan of misconduct.


I was surely not the only person reading the Wisconsin State Journal on Thanksgiving and needing to put the coffee cup down while saying out loud, “Give me a break.”   The reason for such a response was due to the back story concerning Robin Van Ert’s lawsuit against UW-Madison officials in connection with men’s basketball coach Bo Ryan.   Ert and Ryan were romantically involved from 2009 until 2014.

There is certainly reason to suspect that a lawsuit over the questions of due process and the invasion of Ert’s privacy has foundation.  There will be some legal hurdles to clear but no one doubts that folks are taking this lawsuit very seriously at the UW.  And for good reason.   The release of her name to the press was a step that does deserve more than a mere explanation.

But all that was not what made me place my raspberry chocolate coffee on the counter.    No, rather, it was these sentences from the story.

Van Ert alleges the scope of the “sham” investigation wasn’t broad enough, claiming Ryan was “unfit” to mentor student athletes and violated university policies and a “morality clause” in his contract.

“…she ended the relationship in part because she thought he was “manipulative, deceptive and abusive toward Van Ert and other women,” the complaint alleges.

This is where I am going to sound a lot older than I am.

Ert claiming that there was an issue with Ryan’s “morality clause” misses the mark by a mile.  The issue with the UW is second to the fact that Ryan was a married man and his first contract and overriding obligation was that little sticking point called a marriage vow.

As a gay man who has had to fight for the right to marry I am not now–nor have I ever been in any way–lackadaisical when it comes to the meaning of ’till death do us part’.  My parents were just short by a few months of celebrating 60 years of marriage when my mom died.     So when it comes to the ‘other woman’ talking about Ryan’s lack of morality in relation to the UW it strikes many who believe in the sanctity of marriage as most odd.

As to Ert’s claim that she ended the relationship due to Ryan being  “manipulative, deceptive ” must be due to someone not editing the final wording of that document in a  meticulous fashion.  The very act of cheating on one’s spouse is, by its very definition, manipulative and deceptive.  So from day one Ert had ever reason to leave Ryan!

I fully understand that a large segment of society will not ponder this at all and perhaps if they do think I am living in some Victorian land far from reality.   But I would argue that foundations still matter.

While there are legal arguments as to why Ert has a most reasonable chance to prevail with her claims about privacy it can not be left unsaid that all this would not have happened had two simple rules been followed.

Spouses should not cheat on their partners and no one should ever think dating a cheating spouse will ever bring anything other than misery.

  1. September 21, 2018 1:55 AM

    Thanks, Francis. Welcome to Madison and enjoy the UW and the entire city. And a sincere thanks for liking this blog.

  2. Francis permalink
    September 20, 2018 4:20 PM

    A perspective that is not mainstream. I like that. New to UW and many stories from recent past to learn about. Will be liking this blog for future reads.

  3. March 20, 2017 10:32 AM

    How is it in anyway sexist? My point is aimed at both sexes and is just common sense.

  4. f.b. permalink
    March 19, 2017 11:36 PM

    don’t you think your attitude a bit sexist? women should be able to determine their own romantic pursuits.

  5. Don permalink
    March 18, 2017 6:01 AM

    This is great and needs to be published in the local paper as a guest column. Perfectly stated. More people need to read this.

  6. Ida permalink
    March 17, 2017 9:31 AM

    Refreshing to know someone has the ability to state common sense and old-fashioned values about this story. Well done.

  7. December 3, 2016 7:55 PM

    Thank you, Casey. I just call them as I see them.

  8. casey permalink
    December 3, 2016 2:43 AM

    Thank you for the guts to say what so many think! Too few can stand and say what needs to be heard by others. Good Job!

  9. November 28, 2016 9:41 AM

    I am totally with you on this one.

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