A three-member panel will investigate allegations of “emotional abuse” and NCAA rules violations in IUPUI’s women’s basketball program.
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Chancellor Charles Bantz said Tuesday that he has appointed Sue Shields, retired magistrate judge for the U.S. District Court for Southern Indiana, to lead the panel. The other members are Gary Roberts, dean of the Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis, and Angie Torain, associate athletic director.
• SUNDAY STORY: Emotional abuse roiling IUPUI women’s basketball?
The panel will report its findings to IU President Michael McRobbie, the IU board of trustees and other IUPUI leaders. No time was mentioned for when the panel is expected to complete its work.
The abuse allegations, reported in The Indianapolis Star, came from 11 former players of head coach Shann Hart and associate head coach Chanel Spriggs.
The women’s basketball program has seen 28 players and assistant coaches quit in the past four seasons, including 19 scholarship players.
The NCAA keeps some statistics on turnover but nothing covering all players who leave a program early.
Mechelle Voepel, who covers women’s basketball for ESPN .com, described IUPUI’s turnover rate as “extremely high.”
“Something is very definitely wrong there,” she said.
Players alleged an atmosphere of fear, favoritism, humiliation and inappropriate interest in their personal lives.
Hart and Spriggs have declined comment through a university spokesman.
Also Tuesday, the gay rights advocacy group Indiana Equality sent a letter to Bantz and IUPUI athletic director Michael Moore, calling on them to “thoroughly investigate” claims of inappropriate questioning of sexual orientation.
One player told The Star that Hart asked explicitly about her sexual orientation. Others described a reckless postgame rant by the coach that centered on accusations of players breaking team rules by becoming involved in intimate relationships with each other.
The letter from Indiana Equality said that if an investigation substantiates the players’ claims, the school should “take appropriate personnel actions, and . . . establish policies that will protect against such future discriminatory actions.”
IUPUI’s student code of conduct states that students have a right to be free from “conduct that targets an individual based upon” sexual orientation and other factors.
They also have a right to be free from an “intimidating, hostile or offensive environment for academic pursuits, housing or participation in university activities.”