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Report: Emails Reveal Florida AD Acknowledged Former Women's Basketball Coach's Toxic Culture

A report published Monday by The Independent Florida Alligator's Zachary Huber shows that Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin was made aware of the toxic culture within the school's women's basketball program in a series of emails between January 2019 and March 2019.

The emails seemingly conflict with Stricklin's response to the situation in September. When The Alligator first reported on former women's basketball coach Cam Newbauer's alleged abusive treatment of players in the program, Stricklin said that had he known of the allegations against Newbauer, he would not have given the coach a contract extension in March. 

In the report published Monday, Stricklin is quoted replying to an email sent to him in early 2019: "I understand that this was difficult for you to do. Please know that I take your concerns seriously and will assess where we can improve for the benefit of our student-athletes.”

Newbauer resigned from his position in July. 

In September, five players told The Alligator that the coach created an abusive environment, including allegations that he threw balls and screamed at a player during practice.

Stricklin said in a September statement: "At times during Coach Newbauer’s tenure there were concerns brought to our attention. Each time, additional information was sought, and these concerns were addressed directly with Cam as we required corrective actions and outlined clear expectations of behavior moving forward."

In his September statement, Stricklin acknowledged receiving reports about Newbauer’s behavior during his first two years with the program—Newbauer was hired in 2017—but that the reports stopped after the school "[put] more structure around the coach."

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According to The Alligator, a school spokesman forwarded statements Stricklin made on Sept. 27 and 28 prior to publishing their latest report. 

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Newbauer received a $283,250 buyout that will be split into installments, ESPN reported.

Kelly Rae Finley has been installed as the team's interim head coach, having spent the past four seasons as an assistant. 

"It's important that we celebrate each other, that we empower each other, that we have the utmost confidence in ourselves individually as women and that we always seek to connect the dots and how that can help us grow in life," she said in October, per ESPN.

In the initial September report, The Alligator reported that Finley knew of Newbauer's behavior and did nothing about it. In her first media availability as interim coach she was asked whether she knew of the abuse, but deflected

“Our administration has addressed the previous allegations, and our focus is on the upcoming season,” Finley said. 

The Gators have lost two of their first three games this season. They play Wofford on Monday evening. 

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