Just hours before his team was set to compete in the Women’s Final Four, University of Connecticut women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma suggested some coaches are “afraid” of upsetting their players out of fear of the potential repercussions, according to ESPN’s Mechelle Voepel.
Auriemma accused a number of people of breeding such a culture in college athletics.
“The NCAA, the athletic directors and society has made (coaches) afraid of their players,” he said in a teleconference featuring the Final Four coaches Tuesday. “Every article you read: ‘This guy’s a bully. This woman’s a bully. This guy went over the line. This woman was inappropriate.'”
But the players, he says, get off “scot-free.”
“They can do whatever they want. They don’t like something you say to them, they transfer. Coaches, they have to coach with one hand behind their back.”
“Because some people have abused the role of a coach,” he said.
The issue of abuse in college athletics has been in the spotlight in recent years, with numerous coaches facing repercussions for alleged inappropriate or abusive behavior with their team. The most recent incident involves North Carolina Tar Heels women’s hoops coach Sylvia Hatchell and her staff, who were put on administrative leave Tuesday pending an independent investigation for “issues raised by student-athletes and others,” according to a news release from the school.
The line between passion and abuse can be hard to distinguish, Auriemma said, opening coaches up to additional criticism. The Huskies coach doesn’t think coaches should have to care what anyone thinks about his actions besides the players he’s coaching.
Auriemma pointed to an incident on March 21 during which Michigan State men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo and freshman forward Aaron Henry got into a heated argument on the sidelines, claiming Izzo’s players “loved” how the coach handled the encounter.
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