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Panel Probes Allegations Against BU Women’s Basketball Coach

Some current, former Terriers accuse Greenberg of bullying

In the wake of published reports that BU women’s basketball head coach Kelly Greenberg has bullied players and driven several to quit the team, the University has formed a three-person panel to inquire into the allegations, which have drawn widespread media attention after they first appeared in a front-page report March 7 in the Boston Globe. Greenberg faced similar allegations from two players during the 2007–2008 season.

“We take these allegations very seriously, and we will look into them promptly, thoroughly, and in an unbiased manner,” says Todd Klipp, BU senior vice president, senior counsel, and Board of Trustees secretary. The panel members are Elizabeth Loizeaux, associate provost for undergraduate affairs, Sara Brown, a Sargent College clinical associate professor and director of athletic training programs, and Lawrence Elswit, BU associate general counsel.

“I have met with them and they have begun their work,” Klipp says. “It is my hope that they will complete their inquiry within the next few weeks.”

On Saturday, March 8, about 30 current and former student-athletes gathered outside Agganis Arena to rally in support of Greenberg, who is in her 10th season coaching the Terriers. She is the second-winningest coach in team history, with 173 victories and 5 top-three finishes. The supporters held placards reading “Coach Greenberg Cares” and “We Love Coach Greenberg.” They described Greenberg as “tough but fair.”

The former team members who spoke to the Globe told a different story. Of the four women who quit the team this year—all attending BU on athletic scholarships—one said Greenberg’s bullying drove her to seek mental health care, another said she “felt demolished as a person,” and a third said she considered suicide. One told the Globe that she left BU after her “spirit was broken.” The basketball season is over, and one of the complainants is a senior and would be leaving the team anyway. On Saturday, March 15, the Globe reported that two other players had come forward, one claiming that she left the team after being bullied during the 2011–2012 season, and one that she left after being verbally and emotionally abused in 2004. Both had full athletic scholarships.

Greenberg told BU Today that “out of respect for the review process and Boston University, I will not have any public comment at this time.” The Globe reported Saturday that she has hired an attorney. Last fall the coach received a contract extension through 2017.

Greenberg came to BU in 2004 after five years at the University of Pennsylvania, where she guided her team to two Ivy League championships and was honored for two successive seasons as the Coach of the Year by the Daily Pennsylvanian, the daily independent student newspaper.

24 Comments
Susan Seligson

Susan Seligson can be reached at sueselig@bu.edu.

24 Comments on Panel Probes Allegations Against BU Women’s Basketball Coach

  • Nancy on 03.19.2014 at 7:59 am

    The media reports have been terribly and irresponsibly one-sided. I am glad BU has stepped up so quickly to review these accusations objectively. Kelly Greenberg is a committed and passionate coaching professional and a wonderful colleague. Nancy Feldman BU Women’s Soccer Coach

    • Howard Carter on 03.19.2014 at 2:48 pm

      Nancy- How can you explain this, from a webpage signed by 8 current players on her team ‘in support’ of Coach Greenberg:

      “We think it is important for you all to take note of how much these former players (who are making accusations) are outliers in a program that has produced countless, stand-up young women… Unfortunately in athletics some athletes do not buy into the team culture. Our culture of family, support and hard work sadly is not for everyone. I hope you realize that people who don’t believe in such values (to remind you, family, support and hard work) are the very people who are aiming to bring down the integrity of this program.”

      As a coach do you support this kind of an attack on whistleblowers? How come the coach has not told these players to knock this off? If she has, and they really respect her, why have they not knocked it off? What kind of climate is it that creates this kind of vitriol amongst teammates? – labeling them as ‘lazy’, ‘weak’ and ‘not believing in family values’… I have seen these kinds of comments from over a dozen current and previous players of hers… personally attacking their teammates who came out to complain- this kind of abusive climate does not just materialize from thin air.

      http://therealkellygreenberg.wordpress.com/letter-from-players/

      Howard Carter, class of 1989, varsity letter winner.

      • Balance on 03.19.2014 at 7:11 pm

        That quote constitutes an “attack” on the whistleblowers? The signees seem to be simply disputing the allegations and, reading the full letter, seem to be doing it as respectfully as possible.

      • Catherine on 03.20.2014 at 9:35 am

        You consider the quote above to be an “attack” on the whistleblowers? I read the full letter and it seems the signees were respectfully trying to deny the allegations. I saw no “vitriol” in any of the letter.

      • Aimee Rhodes on 03.20.2014 at 11:02 am

        Howard,

        I agree with the comments above, and am failing to see your point. The excerpt you indicated and the teammates’ letter are nothing but respectful. They do point out that some players didn’t assume the same ideals as the rest of the team, certainly making such a distinction is allowable.

        I think we have to be very careful when using words like “abuse” and I think this is an inappropriate use of that description.

    • anon on 03.19.2014 at 5:06 pm

      Coach Feldman- One-sided is pretty nonspecific language. The allegations are very specific:

      From 2008
      An athlete after not being properly treated for a concussion was berated by Greenberg for seeking treatment and pushed to play before she healed. She was also belittled for getting academic help after a second concussion otherwise known as Traumatic Brain Injury.

      Two players – Jacy Schulz, then a freshman guard, and Brianne Ozimok, a sophomore forward at the time – said they walked away from their $46,000 annual basketball scholarships because of Greenberg’s treatment.

      The four women said it was not uncommon for Greenberg to assail them as “horrible’’ and unworthy teammates, especially when they were injured.

      Gallo, a senior guard from northern Virginia, started nine games in 2008 and played in 25 before she departed after the final game of the regular season. She said she gave Greenberg a letter listing some of the hurtful comments the coach had made while treating her like a “punching bag.’’

      from this year:

      One basketball player at Boston University said she felt so emotionally damaged by her coach she considered suicide.

      Another player said the coach, Kelly Greenberg, treated her so poorly she sought mental health care. And two other players said Greenberg’s emotional abuse ruined their love of the sport.

      Coach- Do you think there is any truth in what over a dozen players have stated publically?

      Do you think that this kind of treatment of athletes from a coach is normal and much ado about nothing?

  • Anonymous on 03.19.2014 at 8:17 am

    While the university is performing due diligence and hopefully the truth will be presented, one wonders is this a repeat behavior. One positive aspect supporting Coach Greenberg is that a number of former players are supportive of her. The present generation of student-athletes, especially on a Division I level expect “special” treatment and need to be “pampered”. While I was an All-American (and also non-scholarship walk-on) decades ago, and reaped the benefits of competing internationally after college, intercollegiate athletics has certainly taken on a different persona recently especially at BU). When BU dropped wrestling, the University lost support of hundreds of alumni (and thousands of dollars in donor support) as well as its reputation of letting one become all they are capable of being.

    • Howard Carter on 03.19.2014 at 3:04 pm

      Anon: How many other sports coaches at BU have this number of players… over this prolonged period of time… crying foul and claiming abuse publically?

      None that I can think of.

      Privately, we do not know. One would hope that leadership could handle these issues before they create this kind of negative climate that hurts our university.

      Not one person is denying any of the specifics of these allegations…

      Here is an article from 2008..

      http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/2008/04/17/basketball-players-allege-cruel-treatment-from-women-coach-kelly-greenberg/L5iJADWEDAWe8k7449DPbM/story.html

      This is not ok. These young women should be treated as the tough athletes that they are- but in a professional way. To tell someone they “need to tan”… to berate them publically or privately using terms like “you do not belong”… “you are the worst” and “you are weak” is not ok. There are professional standards for reviewing performance and conducting discipline. This kind of treatment is not ethical, and should not be allowed to continue at BU- period.

      We now have a climate where student athletes and alumni are pitted against each other. You are also correct about the mishandling of wrestling and the treatment of Coach Adams- an absolute class act.
      It is clear that the ability of the athletic department to manage programs, players and coaches, effectively communicating standards and ethics, has failed. University leadership needs to make changes and institute better controls. No doubt about it.

      • Balance on 03.19.2014 at 6:52 pm

        Howard, do you really believe the coach told a player to go tanning?

        • Howard on 03.20.2014 at 8:01 pm

          All I can say is that if you think that 8 current players stating that the players who came forward lack ‘family values’ is ok… that speaks volumes to me on your leadership experience and understanding of ethics within the confines of an organization being investigated for the degradation of personnel.

          Again- no one has denied any of the allegations. If you want to support the coach that is fine… if you want to dispute the facts, that is also fine- but to personally attack the integrity of a group that has a complaint using a derogatory message is counter productive… and can be seen as an indication of a larger negative climate.

          Does anyone responding think that these allegations are not factual… or is the argument that what these players are filing complaints about treatment that ‘normal’?

  • Anonymous on 03.19.2014 at 10:35 am

    Can we please refrain from saying “She is the second-winningest coach in team history”? Thanks!

    • Overlord of the Underclassmen on 03.19.2014 at 3:11 pm

      LOL I knew there would be someone else upset about that….

  • Anonymous on 03.19.2014 at 11:42 am

    Women basketball would have never gotten this much coverage nationally, for any other reason,unless they won a NCAA championship, for that reason alone, she needs to be let go.

    This is bordering on being seen as an institutional problem, not just a women’s basketball problem.

  • Nicole on 03.19.2014 at 12:08 pm

    For more on the tremendous support for Coach Greenberg, see http://therealkellygreenberg.wordpress.com

    • Howard on 03.20.2014 at 9:19 am

      Nicole- 8 current players attack their teammates personally in an open letter on the webpage you linked. That is not ok.

      “We think it is important for you all to take note of how much these former players (who are making accusations) are outliers in a program that has produced countless, stand-up young women… Unfortunately in athletics some athletes do not buy into the team culture. Our culture of family, support and hard work sadly is not for everyone. I hope you realize that people who don’t believe in such values (to remind you, family, support and hard work) are the very people who are aiming to bring down the integrity of this program.”

      Not a climate I would want my kids anywhere near. The only thing certain about the above statement from Coach Kelly Greenberg’s current players is that the demeaning climate that has been created is definitely ‘not for everyone.’ Certainly the culture is not for other D1 level athletes the coach recruited, who now all of a sudden are attacked as weak and lazy after filing a legitimate complaint… unacceptable!

      • Nicole on 03.20.2014 at 10:03 am

        With all due respect, Howard, there’s no attack there. Certainly no more so than the front-page attack on Coach Greenberg, an article which is bullying in and of itself. In any case, stating the other side of a situation doesn’t constitute an attack, vitriol, or any other adjective you wish to use. I’m completely unclear on which stated facts you view as an hostile attack. While I understand you are upset about the wrestling team, I’m not sure it has anything to do with this.

        • Howard on 03.20.2014 at 8:13 pm

          Nicole- The players are saying that their teammates lack ‘family values’… and that there is some sort of de facto ethics they have that many others (‘outliers’ now numbering over a dozen) do not… these players were recruited by your program. They are teammates! This is not boot camp. I can tell you that there is not an organization I have ever worked in or been a leader of that would condone these kind of statements during an investigation.

          That kind of a public attack on whistleblowers would not fly in corporate America… or military service.. or just about anywhere I can think of. The members who posted it should take that part of the post down. The coach should be encouraging this group under her charter to knock it off. Support the coach does not mean attack the messengers.

          I do not know if the coach told a young woman to ‘go tanning’ or not… and neither do you. what I do know is that the team has an ethics problem. It is now a problem that has become national news… it is unbecoming and slanderous for our university. It is clear that it has pitted members of the team against each other. It has clear that it has pitted alumni against each other. That is not normal.

        • anon on 03.20.2014 at 9:16 pm

          Quick question for Nicole. Do you think that it is strange that you have players on the BU women’s basketball admonishing each other in a public forum? If you have specific knowledge of which players are lazy and why, please feel free to throw it out there for the world to read. Obviously, anyone who does not like coach is a problem… anyone else?

  • anonymous 2 on 03.19.2014 at 3:54 pm

    I doubt BU wants the media to know much more and are glad that is has been terrible and not getting out much detail. 4 girls to leave in one year, 2 more that came out, and 2 from 2007, there is a story, and it is not about girls being not ready for D1 or needing to be ‘pampered’. How can BU keep her? Let’s say they do and in 2016 it happens again..BU will have to do a lot of explaining and the media will have even more of a field day.

  • anon on 03.20.2014 at 9:11 am

    Again we see people coming out to support this coach without any denial that she treated players in this way. Is this a culture of abuse that is deemed normal within the BU athletic department and sports in general? One has to wonder. How can someone support this coach if there is any truth to what these young women are saying? It is not ok for a coach to attack players personally, which is the thrust if these allegations. To call players ‘lazy’, ‘weak’ ‘horrible’ and pit teammates against each other is wrong. Why did the coach recruit these girls and offer them scholarships if they were such bad kids in high school?

  • Jimbo on 03.20.2014 at 3:57 pm

    College sports has gotten out of control and once you give the power to the coaches, you see the likes of Rutgers and unfortunately BU. I’m sure there are many more. Put the focus back on academics, where it belongs and you’ll see this go away. There is a pattern here.

    • Howard on 03.21.2014 at 5:32 am

      I am onboard with that Jimbo. BU should be changing policies and posting new cannons of player-coach interaction. There should be scheduled counseling sessions for players when the coach discusses deficiencies using a standardized spread sheet with remarks written down to keep the focus of the conversation on player performance and out of the gutter. The players should be able to submit a written response. The form should be signed, filed, and reviewed by the director. Of course you are going to have statements made on and off the field in the heat of competition that motivate these young D1 athletes… but anytime the coaches go one on one it should be documented and written down. The director should be spot checking these sessions and sitting in. The entire department should hold all team meetings at the start of every season to review standards of conduct, athletic and academic expectations and discipline.

    • Anonymous on 03.26.2014 at 7:58 am

      Jimbo has it right but I would surmise that power can be given to the coaches…..if you have the right coaches…..but the AD and assistant AD are usually doing other things like pursuing the all and important goal……raising monies and increasing revenue. I sure would like to know how many ADs or assistant ADs have attended practices. Perhaps BU should consider adopting what a few institutions (Hartwick, RPI, John Hopkins, Union) have done……if you have a really good program, let that program compete on a Division I level…..let the others compete on a Division III level. The institution has to begin addressing problems with some integrity, and direction otherwise it will continue to struggle and innocent programs like wrestling get the axe. I deplore mention of BU in a negative light as was the case on ESPN this weekend. I invite the AD to respond to this comment.

  • Anonymous on 03.25.2014 at 8:21 am

    BU is a great academic institution but it whole athletic program needs a complete review. Scandals in women’s basketball and men’s hockey. Dropping men’s wrestling
    despite an increase in funding. Wins, conference championships, graduation rates and revenue are nice but are only part of success story but BU athletic program fails drastically in a number of other categories that really define success. Administrators should reevaluate their strategic plan and think about pride, which they talk about but don’t really comprehend.

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