Weatherford Democrat

Online Only

November 3, 2013

Coaches grapple with line between discipline and abuse

The outrage was visceral last spring when ESPN aired the damning video showing Rutgers men's basketball coach Mike Rice shoving his players, hurling gay slurs and throwing basketballs at their heads. He was fired as a result, along with Rutgers's athletic director, faulted for not responding more forcefully when first presented with the footage.

By all accounts, Rice was an outlier - "an animal," in the words of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie - and his coaching tactics were widely condemned as having no place in college sports.

But rare is the college coach who has never lost his composure or raised his voice to drive home a point. And as the 2013-14 college basketball season prepares to tip off, coaches, conferences and college administrators alike are grappling with the boundaries of the often-harsh language of the job.

On this topic - what exactly crosses the line in reprimanding, disciplining or dishing out what's known as "tough love" to players - the terrain is rapidly shifting. And when extreme measures are captured on video or audio, what's the likely fallout from fans, as well as bosses, who clamor for victories yet cringe over the methods?

The consequences of getting it wrong can be profound.

A profane rant can be cause for a formal complaint to an athletic director or fodder for the evening news, as it was last month at Georgetown, where women's basketball coach Keith Brown was forced to resign following complaints by some of his players of unprofessional conduct and inappropriate language.

Peppered with demeaning personal slurs, a pattern of verbal abuse can also be cause for firing - even grounds for a lawsuit. A former Holy Cross women's basketball player recently sued Coach Bill Gibbons and the school, claiming he was physically and emotionally abusive and that the school covered up the behavior.

They are but two examples of a significant, emerging trend of holding abusive coaches accountable, according to Nancy Hogshead-Makar, a three-time Olympic gold medalist, lawyer and director of advocacy for the Women's Sports Foundation, a New York-based nonprofit.

While federal law covers issues such as sexual abuse, Hogshead-Makar stresses what's new here is protecting athletes from emotional abuse or bullying, which is a matter of morality. At the moment, the definition of emotionally abusive coaching is as murky as college basketball's new rule about hand-checking on defense, if not moreso.

Said John Thompson III, who is entering his 10th season as men's basketball coach at Georgetown: "At what point when I'm correcting a player does he decide, 'I'm being harassed. I'm being bullied,' or that he's in a threatening environment? If I tell him five times in a row, 'Hey kid, you're not rebounding! Hey kid, you're not rebounding! Hey key, you're not rebounding!' is he being bullied? By some definitions, possibly."

Text Only
Online Only
  • 20140727-AMX-GUNS271.jpg Beretta, other gun makers heading to friendlier states

    In moving south and taking 160 jobs with it, Beretta joins several other prominent gunmakers abandoning liberal states that passed tough gun laws after the Newtown shooting.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • CATS-DOGS281.jpg Where cats are more popular than dogs in the U.S.-and all over the world

    We all know there are only two types of people in the world: cat people and dog people. But data from market research firm Euromonitor suggest that these differences extend beyond individual preferences and to the realm of geopolitics: it turns out there are cat countries and dog countries, too.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fast food comes to standstill in China

    The shortage of meat is the result of China's latest food scandal, in which a Shanghai supplier allegedly tackled the problem of expired meat by putting it in new packaging and shipping it to fast-food restaurants around the country

    July 29, 2014

  • Dangerous Darkies Logo.png Redskins not the only nickname to cause a stir

    Daniel Snyder has come under fire for refusing to change the mascot of his NFL team, the Washington Redskins. The Redskins, however, are far from being the only controversial mascot in sports history.  Here is a sampling of athletic teams from all areas of the sports world that were outside the norm.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 1.33.11 PM.png VIDEO: High-dive accident caught on tape

    A woman at a water park in Idaho leaped off a 22-foot high dive platform, then tried to pull herself back up with frightening results. Fortunately, she escaped with only a cut to her finger.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brother sues W.Va. senator over business loan

    U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin's brother claims he's owed $1.7 million that he loaned to keep a family carpet out of bankruptcy in the 1980s.

    July 28, 2014

  • How spy agencies keep their 'toys' from law enforcement

    A little over a decade ago, federal prosecutors used keystroke logging software to steal the encryption password of an alleged New Jersey mobster, Nicodemo Scarfo Jr., so they could get evidence from his computer to be used at his trial.

    July 28, 2014

  • HallofFameBraves.jpg Hall of Fame adds businesslike Braves, Frank Thomas, managers La Russa and Torre

    Atlanta Braves pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, and their manager, Bobby Cox, dominated much of baseball during the 1990s. This weekend they went into the Hall of Fame together.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • cleaning supplies Don't judge mothers with messy homes

    I was building shelves in my garage when a neighbor girl, one of my 4-year-old daughter's friends, approached me and said, "I just saw in your house. It's pretty dirty. Norah's mommy needs to clean more."

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Russia's war on McDonald's takes aim at the Filet-o-Fish

    Russia said earlier this week that it had no intention of answering Western sanctions by making it harder for Western companies to conduct business in Russia.
    But all bets are off, apparently, when you threaten the Russian waistline.

    July 26, 2014

Must Read
Top News
House Ads
AP Video
Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast New Sanctions on Key Sectors of Russian Economy Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue