San Jose State Settles Retaliation Lawsuit, Apologizes to Sage Hopkins

San Jose State has settled a retaliation suit with Sage Hopkins, the coach that brought forward reports of sexual abuse by former sports medicine director Scott Shaw.

Hopkins filed the lawsuit in April that accused former athletic director Marie Tuite of carrying out a years-long retaliation effort, in addition to attempting to discredit the accusations against Shaw. Both Tuite and then-university president Mary Papazian stepped down in 2021.

“I’m so thankful for Sage Hopkins and the perseverance he showed in advocating for all student-athletes, not just his own,” former SJSU swimmer Caitlin Macky told USA Today in February 2021.

Hopkins first came forward with sexual harassment claims by female swimmers against Shaw, whom they accused of inappropriate touching, in 2009. In 2010, SJSU reviewed the claims and found Shaw not guilty and that his method of “pressure point” therapy was acceptable, and he remained in his job with no punishment for 10 years. In 2021, Shaw was found responsible for at least five sexual abuse allegations from current and former members of the university’s athletic teams during multiple Title IX investigations. 

In 2021, USA Today reported that the Title IX investigations stated Shaw’s physical therapy “lacked medical basis, ignored proper protocols and violated the system’s sexual harassment policies.” 

Hopkins re-reported the allegations and continued to talk with administration, even after SJSU initially did not take action against Shaw. Hopkins put together a document in 2019 that was close to 300 pages long, describing athletes’ allegations against Shaw, the school’s response, and alleged retaliation against himself for re-reporting the allegations. The document was sent to NCAA officials, the Mountain West Conference, and members of the university.

Steve O’Brien, a former member of the athletic department, gave an example of the alleged retaliation. He said Tuite told him to discipline Hopkins and another employee, and he told USA Today he believed the instructions retaliated against Hopkins for re-reporting the allegations. O’Brien was fired for disobeying the order.

Hopkins said the retaliation suit was settled amicably, and on January 9 SJSU issued a letter thanking Hopkins for his “steadfast commitment to student-athlete health and welfare.” The letter also apologized that Hopkin’s information wasn’t acted upon earlier. 

“His difficult path involved great personal sacrifice,” the letter states. “On behalf of our community, we thank him for his commitment to doing the right thing. We are pleased that Coach Hopkins has agreed to continue in his leadership role with the same unwavering courage moving forward.”

Hopkins will receive a $225,000 payment, according to The Mercury News. Hopkins said the settlement was “amicable.”

The university has also agreed to pay $4.9 million to 28 survivors in two other settlements. The open letter was signed by interim president Steve Perez and athletics director Jeff Konya.

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Chris Woodard
8 months ago

Sage is a championship for women and victims rights–we need more leaders like him.

Dave Burleigh
8 months ago

what happened to Tuite?

Ol' Longhorn
8 months ago

We need more Sage Hopkins’s in our coaching ranks.

8 months ago

Seems like SJSU got off pretty cheap.

Reply to  Ferb
8 months ago

What often happens in a situation like this is the bad guys get fired leaving the new guys to pay for the sins of the bad guys. Like when a coach violates NCAA rules, gets fired and the next coach is the one who has to deal with the loss of scholarships and sanctions. In any event, it seems to me that all Hopkins really wanted to do the right thing for the students and the university. Which is great!

Coach Tom
8 months ago

It’s not just big universities. Even small clubs will spend thousands of dollars of membership dues fighting lawsuits like this rather than admit wrongdoing.

Rick Paine
8 months ago

Great job Sage. Class act

Sam B
8 months ago

sounds like he is redeemed but the cover up was still awful and ruthless