CNN They called it the "dog pound. WHEN coachbeckman is fired you'll hear plenty more stories but right now he's dangling scholarships like a carrot. Stars Screen Binge Culture Media. Tech Innovate Gadget Mission: Chat with us in Facebook Messenger. Find out what's happening in the world as it unfolds. Story highlights Athletes at the University of Illinois accuse coaches of harassment CNN spoke to 15 recently departed players on the football and women's basketball team The university's athletic director acknowledges the allegations are serious and call into question the culture of the program.
It was a separate practice for women's basketball players at the University of Illinois, a majority of them black, where athletes were often allegedly harassed and attacked for things that had nothing to do with basketball.
Like the neighborhoods where they grew up. Or their family life. It was common, these women told CNN, for an assistant coach to refer to race, and to tell them their "culture" was "poison" Dating coach under fire cnn sports "toxic" to the starting team, which was predominantly white. During road games, the players say they were segregated -- black players separated from the white ones in hotel rooms. It was so bad, the women said, four players from this past season transferred out of the program at the University of Illinois to other schools.
Nearby, at the university's Memorial Stadium, some members of the football team say they were being harassed too. They recalled two instances where players were physically hit by their coach. Another player, with Type 1 diabetes, said he was shamed about his weight. Email your story ideas and tips to CNNtips cnn. CNN has spoken to 15 recently departed players on the football and women's basketball teams, and they allege a wide range of misconduct and persistent bullying of athletes by coaches.
In addition, players and their families have complained to CNN that they were pressured to play through injuries that go far beyond Dating coach under fire cnn sports typical tough nature of college sports. In one
Dating coach under fire cnn sports, a women's basketball player says she was forced to play with an injured toe that ended up being diagnosed as a broken foot.
Athletes on the football team also "Dating coach under fire cnn sports" that injuries were not taken seriously -- one recalling a time when coaches threatened from the sidelines that he would lose his scholarship as he limped across the field with a knee injury. Overall, students and parents on both teams say there was a culture of coaches bullying students, with frequent threats to take away their scholarships even though university policy says an athlete can't lose his or her scholarship because of injury or performance in sport.
The university's athletic director, Mike Thomas, acknowledged that the allegations are serious and call into question the culture of the program. And those allegations don't match our core values," he said. Women's basketball head coach Matt Bollant and head football coach Tim Beckman declined to comment through a university spokeswoman.
I'm sure they hope that we go away. The women's basketball team lost four girls to transfer this year -- all for the same reasons: They allege pervasive emotional abuse. Eight former players -- seven of them have since sued the university -- talked to CNN, and all said that assistant coach Mike Divilbiss verbally attacked players daily, going after them for personal issues such as learning disabilities, family life or the neighborhood in which they grew up.
Divilbiss could not be reached for comment. Why did you even move in with them? You are trying to poison them. Kierra Morris, who left the team after being put on medical disability, said the coaches told her they didn't want her "culture carrying over" to their new recruits.
Another former player, Amarah Coleman said that race was a constant underlying distinction and that Divilbiss often said things like, "you know how black people play.
And another former player, Taylor Tuck, said Divilbiss made a comment about three black players sitting together at a restaurant, saying, "All the black girls are sitting together, that's segregated. Divilbiss left the university after coming to what administrators call a "mutual understanding" with Bollant, following complaints from some parents, but Bollant remains in his position. Several former players or their parents told CNN that separate practices were held for the team -- one practice group was majority black, and called "the dog pound," which the players understood to mean they were not in favor.
The other practice group was majority white, made up of the starters on the team. In addition, tension between the groups was encouraged, parents wrote in letters of complaint to the university in April. The players said those in the "dog pound" were called "crabs," which, on a conference call, seven of the players explained like this: That is how he explained it in practice. They all just climb on top of Dating coach under fire cnn sports other and pull each other down.
Like, bums, we are just dragging everybody down. Coleman said she felt uncomfortable when her team was preparing to play one that was majority African-American, "because coach Divilbiss would single out the blacks on the team to talk about what the other black team was thinking. The division of the team during that time made it feel like coach was thinking all blacks think alike. She continued with more examples: People should be proud of where they are from, but coach was saying it to make fun of where they are from.
Six of the former players who spoke to CNN said that Divilbiss made several comments that singled out the black players who were primarily recruited by the previous coach, also an African-American, from the white players who were primarily recruited by Bollant.
The players say race wasn't the only factor that led to their mistreatment; they say they believe it also had to do with the fact that they were recruited by a previous coach. Like you were African-American, and you weren't recruited by them," former player Nia Oden said. In their lawsuit, and in interviews with CNN, the women said they were divided by race when sharing hotel rooms during road games. After the women's parents complained in April, the school did an internal investigation through its diversity council, and "preliminary findings" found no wrongdoing when it came to the allegations of racism and bullying.
That led to an outcry from former players and their parents. And in response to them and to questions from CNN, the university announced five days later that it had hired a Chicago law firm to "finalize the preliminary review" that found no wrongdoing. You know we will go through an investigative process, and when that process is complete we will look at the next steps," said Thomas, the university's athletic director.
I think you and I could be watching practice, and you could hear a coach say something to two different kids, those two different kids might take a different way and you and I might take it a different way. So I think for coaches, not just at the University of Illinois but across the country, these are the kind of things that we're going to be paying attention to moving forward.
The university has also hired a separate law firm to look at the claims of medical mistreatment on different teams. Allegations now include a lawsuit filed on June 8 by a former Illinois soccer player who says her concussion was mishandled. The suit says the university failed to follow its own protocol for handling concussions when defender Casey Conine was injured, returning her to play before doctors cleared her.
Divilbiss' departure comes after three sets of parents wrote letters to the administration in late April. In one of the letters, Tuck, the former player, and her husband wrote
Dating coach under fire cnn sports bullying and racial tension on the team are systematic and "epidemic," and they accused Bollant, the women's basketball head coach, of creating "a culture of mental and emotional abuse. The family of another player, Taylor Gleason, wrote that she was "bullied and demoralized daily" and was forced to play with an injured toe, which later was diagnosed as a broken foot.
Many of the players who left are now playing at other schools, and they said they are having much different and much better experiences. Tom Grusecki, the stepfather of one former player, wrote in a letter to the school that Divilbiss belittled his daughter in front of the team because of her estranged relationship with her father and because of her dyslexia.
More than one player said they became so depressed, "it hurt to get out of bed. Sarah Livingston, who transferred after the season, said the final straw, for her, was when another coach just turned away after one of Divilbiss' rants. He wouldn't tell coach D to stop. Coach Bollant would be quiet and continue with practice," Smith said. Thomas, the university's athletic director, said the university is
Dating coach under fire cnn sports its practice of allowing head coaches to do most of the vetting of assistants they bring in.
The university responded by saying that it's disappointed the lawsuit came before the findings of its internal review and that Thomas has asked staff to closely monitor team activities in the meantime. We intended that through the external review process the student-athletes and their families would help us better understand their concerns and perceptions," Chancellor Phyllis Wise said in a statement.
Many players and Dating coach under fire cnn sports told CNN they won't be happy as long as Bollant remains. One said, "When you are the head Dating coach under fire cnn sports, you should stop that when you see it. If you can't stop bullying amongst your own staff, that is a problem.
Tuck, whose daughter graduated from the program, said the behavior "Dating coach under fire cnn sports" the coaching staff changed drastically when Bollant was hired after her daughter's freshman year.
And, she said, the attitude of the coaches is drastically different from those of her other daughter, who plays under much better circumstances at Connecticut.
The alleged bullying at the University of Illinois wasn't isolated to one program or one coach. There are also allegations of wrongdoing in the football program. Recently graduated football player Kenny Knight and three other former players who spoke to CNN say they witnessed two incidents in the past two years in which head coach Tim Beckman was physically rough with players.
One player is still on the team and declined through his teammates to talk about what happened. But witnesses said that at the start of one practice, the player ran onto the field with his helmet unbuckled, and Beckman ran over to him, grabbed his face mask and jerked his head back and forth, yelling at him.
InKnight says, a similar thing happened to him. He says Beckman grabbed and tackled him from behind, throwing him to the ground during a practice.
Two former teammates who witnessed the incident backed him up.
They say it happened after Knight was hit "dirty" by another player with his head down -- something that's prohibited in college football. I was livid, I thought I was going to look up and see one of my teammates had thrown me down, but I looked up and saw Tim Beckman staring in my face. I don't think I uttered a word. The university says Beckman thought he was breaking up a fight; Knight and several other players who witnessed the Dating coach under fire cnn sports said there was no physical fight happening when Beckman hit Knight.
Knight's father said the night of the incident, Beckman told him, "Kenny accidentally fell backwards over him. Knight and his father tried to look at the practice tape to review what happened.
I could see the dial was moving to let me know that it was still playing, but there was no film to be seen. It wouldn't play for me or for anybody else," he said. Two other players said they, separately, also looked for the incident on the practice tape, but it was not there.
The university says the "dead time" between plays is not normally recorded during practice. Knight says Beckman called him the day after speaking to his father to apologize, but Knight never reported the to anyone at the university out of fear that he'd lose
Dating coach under fire cnn sports scholarship. The National College Players Association is also involved, offering guidance to the players who are coming out publicly and demanding that Illinois fire all coaches involved in physical and verbal abuse.
What doesn't happen everywhere is racism," Huma said, referring to the women's basketball team. It's not regular for coaches to put their hands on players -- that's not breaking up a fight, that's starting a fight," he said, referring to the alleged incident with the football team.
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