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USAFA assistant track and field coach claims ‘refusing’ COVID vaccine resulted in contract not being renewed

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (KRDO) -- A current assistant coach at the U.S. Air Force Academy alleges her contract wasn't renewed because she's "refusing the COVID vaccine."

Dana Lyon is the assistant coach for the Air Force track and field team. Lyon tells 13 Investigates she joined the coaching staff in October 2017 after four years in the Academy's strength and conditioning department. However, Lyon says she was informed on May 31 that her term would not be renewed, and she would be fired.

Lyon told 13 Investigates she was given mixed messages regarding cause for her termination. According to her termination letter sent at the end of May, she was fired for non-disciplinary reasons that were not personal to her.

Termination Letter Via Lyon

Then, on June 8, she was sent an email that seemingly reversed course. It stated, "the decision not to renew your contract was based on performance and the department's wish to go in a different coaching direction."

Email Via Lyon

"At least be told the truth, whether this is disciplinary or this is personal, or this is performance based or if this ultimately has something to do with the vaccine," Lyon said.

When asked about the differences in the letter and email, USAFA told 13 Investigates they could not provide any additional information because of "federal privacy laws."

"All employees receive feedback throughout their employment, including term appointees," USAFA Spokesperson Dean Miller said. 

Since her termination Lyon has questioned the validity of her dismissal as she says she was never informed of poor performance in a meeting or notice of any kind.

"I've never been told that my performance was poor. The only thing I've ever heard from coach Lindeman was you belong here, you are invaluable to this program," Lyon said.

According to a press release provided to KRDO from Stand Together Against Racism & Radicalism in the Services, Inc. (STARRS), Lyon is a Gold Star widow, meaning her husband died in combat.

A spokesperson for the USAFA provided KRDO with the following statement:

We normally don't comment on personnel actions, but the narrative surrounding this situation needs to be addressed. The decision not to renew the employee's contract was not based on her vaccination status.

Lt Col Brian Maguire, U.S. Air Force Academy spokesman

The Air Force Academy tells 13 Investigates that Lyon is not the only unvaccinated employee in the athletic department. They added that she was a term employee and their staff decided to go in a new direction.

Lyon says she requested that her term be extended by 60 days to ensure they she received her retirement benefits as a 20-year Air Force employee. USAFA granted her request.

However, Lyon says she expected more from the Air Force Academy after 20 years of service to her country and the athletes she coached.

"I'm about to walk away a month and three weeks shy of essentially twenty years and I have nothing to show for my last twenty years expect for the death certificate of my husband."

Article Topic Follows: 13 Investigates
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Shelby Filangi

Shelby is a digital content producer for KRDO.com. You can learn more about Shelby here.

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Sean Rice

Sean is reporter with the 13 Investigates team. Learn more about him here.

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