Families of Illinois women's players allege verbal, racial abuse by coaches
The families of three Illinois women's basketball players have alleged verbal and emotional abuse by head coach Matt Bollant and "sexual inappropriateness" by associate coach Mike Divilbiss, according to letters obtained by The Daily Illini and the Chicago Tribune.
The letters claim Bollant and Divilbiss "created racial tension among players by derogatorily noting the race of Illini players and opponents and attributing racial stereotypes to each," according to the Tribune. The letters allege, among other details, that several black players were referred to by current staff as "crabs," and that other coaches "considered having separate practices for African-American players," the Tribune report said.
"The letters highlighted that Bollant and Divilbiss threatened to pull players' scholarships, attempted to create division in the team using racism and ignored or minimized injuries," the Illini report said.
"One of the claims made by the letters...was that Bollant and Divilbiss enforced what was called the 'Dog Pound.' The 'Dog Pound' was the team’s group of nonstarters, and was required to go to extra practices."
The family of Taylor Gleason alleges she was not treated correctly after sustaining a second degree high ankle sprain, and that she was "forced to play" a game after a team physician determined her foot was fractured, according to the Illini.
The allegations are being investigated by the office of chancellor Phyllis Wise, according to the Illini. The university announced on Monday that Divilbiss' role has been filled, and the associate athletic director for media relations told the Illini that there was "mutual agreement" between Bollant and Divilbiss on the departure.
The Gleason family, as well as the families of players Jacqui Grant and Taylor Tuck each sent a letter, which were copied to athletic director Mike Thomas, the university president, NCAA president Mark Emmert and others.
Four players are transferring out of the school this off-season, including Grant and Gleason. Tuck was a senior and graduated this month, according to the Illini.
Earlier this month, former Illinois offensive lineman Simon Cvijanovic accused football head coach Tim Beckman of forcing him to play through injuries and other forms of abuse. The Illini also recently published a story which featured other former players alleging mistreatment under Beckman.
Thomas has said the athletic department will review Cvijanovic's allegations.
- Molly Geary