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In its third settlement between a school and a student in as many months, the National Center for Lesbian Rights in San Francisco penned a breakthrough agreement with the University of Florida. NCLR represented Andrea Zimbardi, a former catcher and co-captain for the university’s varsity softball team who was forced out in 2002 after she accused the school of sexual orientation discrimination. In the settlement the school agreed to take steps to restore Zimbardi’s final year of NCAA eligibility and to pay for her master’s degree studies. The deal also calls for the Division I school to implement a sweeping anti-discrimination plan. It includes training for its entire athletic department about discouraging homophobia. The sessions will include former professional football player Don McPherson, who now heads a sports leadership program at Adelphi University. The University of Florida will also give athletes better ways to report alleged bias, said Helen Carroll, NCLR’s Homophobia in Sports coordinator. “This is a model that we’d love to see other Division I schools emulate,” said Karen Doering, a Tampa, Fla.-based NCLR attorney. Doering praised the university’s coaching staff for its enthusiastic response to the first round of training in January. The university could not be reached for comment. “This is a smart way for [schools] to decrease their liability … if they want to keep and retain the best qualified athletes,” Doering said.

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