U. Illinois Women’s Basketball Program Accused of Player Abuse

Timothy Killeen AP

Allegations of the mistreatment of women’s basketball players have been filed against both the University of Illinois Illini basketball program and coaches Matt Bollant and Mike Divilbiss.

Head coach Bollant and assistant coach Divilbiss have been accused of forcing players to play injured, mistreating them with emotional and verbal abuse, and even making racist statements to players.

Already coach Divilbiss has resigned from the Illini program but school authorities say that coach Bollant is not currently facing any disciplinary actions.

Administrators released a statement saying that an internal investigation found “no violation of applicable law or university policy had occurred.” School president Timothy Killeen (pictured above) maintained, “The thing that’s most important is student health, well-being and nurturing an effective workplace environment for our students.”

Players alleged that coaches called African American players “crabs” and suggested holding separate practices for black and white players.

After interviews with up to 20 people connected with the program, the school also claims that no NCAA violations took place, though the medical mistreatment of “one player” is still being evaluated.

But the harshest determination was against assistant coach Mike Divilbiss, with whom “after further review,” a statement read, the university “agreed to part ways.”

The players also alleged that the coaches threatened them with a loss of scholarships. One set of parents, whose daughter transferred, complained to the school in a letter:

The fun and excitement came to an end in the locker room where she was completely demoralized in front of her entire team for “showboating” and not being their kind of player. Early on Taylor discovered she was not what they wanted. She was not allowed to pass with her feet off the ground and was not allowed to dribble or rebound or shoot a pull-up jump shot inside the 3 point line. Taylor is a game changer, a play maker, someone who makes everybody better around her so imagine her frustration of being told she wasn’t allowed to play her basketball but to stand in the corner and only shoot threes. She was told daily she was not the player they thought they recruited, worst defender in the country and was treated like she was stupid. Bullied and demoralized daily. Worst of all she was told to stop playing like a boy! She was too athletic for their offense. They were asking her to dumb down her play to fit their offense.

The complaints against the women’s basketball coaches aren’t the only allegations of misconduct being leveled against Illinois coaches.

Earlier this year a former football player filed allegations of misconduct and physical mistreatment against football coach Tim Beckman along with the team’s medical staff. This allegation makes the second one filed against Beckman.

Despite the allegations, though, athletic director Mike Thomas came to the coach’s support, an action that drew the ire of the National College Players Association. In a letter, the organization scolded Thomas, saying he has “compromised the integrity of his review by making conclusions before he collected any evidence.”

Despite the plethora of statements, all these allegations are still under investigation by Illinois Chancellor Phyllis Wise.

Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at igcolonel@hotmail.com


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