BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Birmingham Stallions president Jerry Sklar Wednesday denied a woman sportswriter's charge that he laughed while team members harassed her during a locker room interview after a USFL game last week.
Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel sports columnist Joan Ryan claimed Stallions players 'yelled insults at me and made dirty remarks to each other' when she entered the team dressing room following Birmingham's game at Orlando last Saturday night.
Ryan said she wanted to interview Stallion running back Joe Cribbs outside the locker room, but was told by Stallion spokesman Hal Hayes she would have to wait for Cribbs to finish showering and dressing. Ryan said her newpaper's deadline would not permit her to wait, so she had to go into the locker room.
She said players refused to tell her where Cribbs' locker was, and either ignored her or laughed at her. She left when one player began stroking her leg with the handle of a razor, Ryan said.
Ryan said a well-dressed man she later learned was Sklar was 'chuckling' as she left the dressing room. The team president told her the locker room was not the proper place for women and accused her of entering just so she could look at naked men, she said.
'He stood by like a father who claps his son on the back after every cruel prank and declares, with a touch of pride, that boys will be boys,' Ryan wrote in her weekly column.
'None of that is true,' Sklar said Wednesday. 'That woman called Hal yesterday, and until then I'd never heard of her.
'I didn't speak with her in the dressing room, and I didn't laugh at her. I don't know about those other things.'
Sklar said he was dressed casually in a Stallions sweater and must have been mistaken for someone else.
But Ryan said Cocoa (Fla.) Today sportswriter Melissa Isaacson also witnessed the incident and identified the man as Sklar. Isaacson planned to go into the locker room, but decided to wait outside when she saw the treatment Ryan received, Ryan said.
Sklar admitted he was against women going into the locker room, but said he did not try to stop Ryan because league policy allows women sportswriters in the locker room.
'If she thinks she feels humiliated, how do you think those naked players feel to have a strange woman in there?' he said.
'I think the problem has been manifested by two young girls not mature enough to handle the situation. We've had women reporters before, some at Legion Field (in Birmingham). We've never had a problem out there, and never had a question about our players' maturity.
'It's a trumped up deal by two women looking for a story.'