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WWCDD

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Posts: 31
Reply with quote  #1 
Does anyone know a lawyer who specializes in athletic cases?
Situation:  a coach has been repetitively verbally, physically and emotionally abusive to a team(s) and targets individual players?  (And the school only did a sweep-it-under-the-rug investigation). Bonus if they do pro bono work on behalf of players. 
Location:  PSAC school.
SoftballFamily

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Posts: 30
Reply with quote  #2 
I don't know of a  lawyer, but you may want to seek out someone who works with athletes dealing with all types of NCAA situations from transfers, eligibility, issues with 
coaches, etc.   If you Google NCAA consultants you will find some options.  We have received emails from Informed Athlete.com that addresses compliance issues, scholarships, recruiting, etc .  - you can contact them for one on one phone consultations that may at least give you some guidance or point you in the right direction. 
WWCDD

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Reply with quote  #3 
Thank you!
I am dealing directly with the NCAA compliance department and they've been very upfront and clear about what they do, but maybe a consultant will know how to light a bit of a fire under them...

I'll give that a search.


PBLC20

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Posts: 134
Reply with quote  #4 
Attorneys take these types of cases on a contingency basis, meaning they take 33% or so of any final award.  This type of case would be extremely difficult to win, so it would be tough to find an attorney to take the case on a contingency basis, let alone pro bono.  These cases are a ton of work, meaning a lawyer would have hundreds of hours invested.  

I would imagine the cause of action would include intentional and/or negative infliction of emotional distress (both difficult to prove), negligence on the part of the college (also very difficult to prove) and who knows what else.  Without some concrete evidence of physical abuse or extreme emotional abuse, this will be an extraordinarily difficult case.
Kurosawa

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Reply with quote  #5 
The only way these guys get fired is if you get the goods on them. Other words, it is his word against yours, and they're taking his. If they ask the girls, they'll clam up, since they're still under his thumb.

Is your daughter on the team? See if she can secretly record him on her smart phone, just audio, then video/audio, if she can manage it. Get testimonials from as many players as are willing to give them. It's not enough that he's being tough - you need demeaning/degrading behavior. Targeting players' weight, eating habits, appearance, intelligence, dress, sexuality, for instance. Physical threats. Drop it all on the admin (pres, dean, athletic director, assistant director for women's athletics, etc.) with all players' identities blacked out. Demand action, or you'll release it to the local media, publish it online, and hire a lawyer.

See the firings of Bob Ernst at Washington (rowing), Jim Moore at Oregon (volleyball), Bonnie Kenny and Cindy Gregory at Delaware (volleyball). See if you can contact any lawyers involved in those cases.

See Jacquie Joseph and Jessica Bograkos at Michigan State (softball) for a case that didn't work out. Bougrakos was accused of intentionally throwing, with the permission of the head coach, Joseph, at a player's head in batting practice, benching her, and generally targeting and harassing her, because she made a less than complimentary remark about the program that made it back to the coaches. See:

http://www.detroitnews.com/story/sports/college/michigan-state-university/2015/06/11/police-msu-investigate-softball-coaches/71104834/ (Scroll down if necessary to see story.)

http://www.detroitnews.com/story/sports/college/michigan-state-university/2015/06/15/msu-softball/28793475/

No charges were filed and the school cleared the coaches and blamed the student and her parent. Joseph got a 3-year extension. (Bograkos did "retire" a year later.)

http://www.detroitnews.com/story/sports/college/michigan-state-university/2015/08/19/report-blames-msu-softball-player-parent/32030539/

3leftturns

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Posts: 11,014
Reply with quote  #6 
There are many two-party-consent states out there for any recordings.... be careful with that idea
Still_JAD

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Posts: 318
Reply with quote  #7 
Quote:
Originally Posted by WWCDD
Does anyone know a lawyer who specializes in athletic cases?
Situation:  a coach has been repetitively verbally, physically and emotionally abusive to a team(s) and targets individual players?  (And the school only did a sweep-it-under-the-rug investigation). Bonus if they do pro bono work on behalf of players. 
Location:  PSAC school.


If your daughter is unhappy I would suggest transferring or becoming a regular student because by the time any ruling from the court system in enacted your DD will more than likely have graduated.
CrowHop

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Posts: 74
Reply with quote  #8 
Players weight? Are you saying that if a player eats her way off the field, a coach can't do anything about it?
__________________
Your pitcher is illegal.
Kurosawa

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Posts: 2,597
Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by CrowHop
Players weight? Are you saying that if a player eats her way off the field, a coach can't do anything about it?


That's what got Bob Ernst fired, in a sport (rowing) where every ounce matters. Weight shaming. It has been an element in many of the firings of "abusive" coaches in women's sports. Women's bodies are a sensitive issue - just ask any woman.

There are ways of positively motivating changes that don't involve shaming: fitness, nutrition, etc. His replacement, Yasmin Farooq, just won the national championship, with an unprecedented sweep of all races, in her very first year at UW. She'd previously won a national championship as head coach at Stanford in 2009. Ernst hadn't won one since 1987. Something he was doing wasn't working (and hadn't been for a long time; something she did, did. He was the image of the old-school grumpy curmudgeon taskmaster coach; she is a new-school positive motivator. (Note that she was brought in from outside the program, having rowed at Wisconsin and coached at Stanford.) One could say, with some justification, that she simply harvested the fruit from the trees he'd grown; on the other hand, his harvests had failed year-after-year.

For an interesting take, see:

https://megankalmoe.com/2015/12/13/the-thing-about-bob/

Quote:
 Ladies, if we say we want to be treated equally, we have to mean it.  We can’t ever expect that things are going to change if we can’t make up our minds about what we want to achieve as female athletes.  Do we want to be coached by people who will push us past our limits and sometimes say things we don’t want to hear?  Do we want to stop holding the world hostage with the threat of disordered eating at the mere mention of bodyweight in an athletic setting?  Do we want to stop being framed as fragile, emotionally hysterical communities of smaller, slower, weaker, competitors?

Or do we want to row with the boys?


Or see: http://www.espn.com/espn/feature/story/_/id/19232937/espnw-body-image-confidential

So, it is not cut-and-dried. Tough, but fair, coaches have been, undoubtedly, unfairly fired; abusive coaches have been retained. Administrations often just want to get rid of a problem they see as besmirching their image (see John Rittman, at Stanford). More generally, however, mere accusations are not enough - you need real evidence, the "goods", as I put it, which smart phones make much easier. Short of a team revolt, most players, if pressed, aren't going to rat a head coach out.

uwApoligist

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Posts: 6,150
Reply with quote  #10 
Be careful what you are sharing with NCAA compliance department.  Ultimately NCAA works for the schools. Yes, they make rules for all schools to follow, but they also spend a lot of time sharing information from school to school to keep lawsuits down.
__________________
 So suck it, even though in your case it taste  like plastic. 
WWCDD

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Posts: 31
Reply with quote  #11 
I really appreciate all of the thought out responses to my question.  It is giving me confirmation of some current action plans and a few new avenues to explore.
Specific responses to some comments from above:
- coulda shoulda woulda recorded the abuse but didn't at the last minute
-solid evidence and witnesses are at hand
-not looking for any money out of this -- just the satisfaction that we did not stay silent when all else did (until it was too late)
- the abuse is ongoing to the remaining team: I guarantee you 100% this is not a 'tough' coach situation but a psychotic abusive one and, yes, I'm sure the university is embarrassed and that's why they are denying it.  Even if NCAA compliance hasn't followed up with me I do hope that they are at least tracking complaints and may one day say enough is enough.

Pattern:

The coach walks in with qualifications, does some questionable things year one, then digs in with her 'style' of coaching year two and complaints start but nothing is done, then by year three everybody wants her out and she makes her exit plan to jump to a new school before she gets fired, everybody backs off and she leaves, then the cycle starts again.  So, she's getting up to 4 years of pay to do a destructive job, sequentially.  It's got to stop.  I feel for the next hot potato school and players.  There is a wake of destroyed players.  Even the ones who benefit from her positive attention are themselves 'ruined' in a way because they don't yet realize that they were just used as tools to abuse others.  The psychological realization may hit them in the future that they weren't superstars, they were pawns in a twisted game that had nothing to do with playing softball.  It's making everything and everyone involved rotten.

It's laughable, that on top of this, she decides who gets money, awards, and recommendations too. 
The merit of the player is in their perceived loyalty to the coach to support her while she abuses the other players, always using them to keep herself arms-length when there are witnesses and doing the worst damage directly when there are none. 

But I digress.  Please keep sharing your experiences.  I am at the point of finding a lawyer and would also like more advice about going public with complaints.
I sort of thought I should have a lawyer in place first to prevent any action coming back at me.

Has anyone gone to the press publicly (not anonymously) with complaints about a school or coach and had a positive response or negative response?
Did anyone get sued over it?


spazsdad

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Posts: 4,708
Reply with quote  #12 
You must have been a joy to have on a team back in your kids TB days.
3leftturns

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Posts: 11,014
Reply with quote  #13 
Quote:
Originally Posted by spazsdad
You must have been a joy to have on a team back in your kids TB days.
Some of the litigious/hopper parents... they could be seen from a mile away at a tryout. At that point, it did not matter one bit how good the player was. Rather be mediocre without that crapola than good with it
WWCDD

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Posts: 31
Reply with quote  #14 
You might assume that. When fact I haven't spoken to any of her coaches since she was 15. And the few College tournaments that I attended I sat in the stands and clapped for good plays. I am not litigious by nature however I believe that the sport will be improved by having respect on all sides.
ultsoftballparent

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Posts: 28
Reply with quote  #15 
Blaming parents is the easy way out.  Maybe the way your team is run might equate to so called "Litigious/hopper parents"  

Softball is a sport which is suppose to be fun and enrich the college experience.  Coaches that act like slave bosses need removed from the sport no matter what their record on the field is. Until parents stand up and support sons/daughters that are unjustly treated these terrible coaches will continue to manipulate and mentally scar young men and women in their formative years.

WWCDD I applaud you wanting to remove this coach.  More parents need to be bold.

As parents would we tolerate a business school that teaches our young men and women unethical behavior?  Unethical behavior in business can and will lead to huge profits.

Why should we sit back in Athletics and say it is ok as long as we win? 
MadDogsDad

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Posts: 2,178
Reply with quote  #16 
Kumbaya......everybody sing
__________________
And if I don't like what you say then...

your kid sucks.
1janiedough

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Posts: 2,457
Reply with quote  #17 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ultsoftballparent
Blaming parents is the easy way out.  Maybe the way your team is run might equate to so called "Litigious/hopper parents"  

Softball is a sport which is suppose to be fun and enrich the college experience.  Coaches that act like slave bosses need removed from the sport no matter what their record on the field is. Until parents stand up and support sons/daughters that are unjustly treated these terrible coaches will continue to manipulate and mentally scar young men and women in their formative years.

WWCDD I applaud you wanting to remove this coach.  More parents need to be bold.

As parents would we tolerate a business school that teaches our young men and women unethical behavior?  Unethical behavior in business can and will lead to huge profits.

Why should we sit back in Athletics and say it is ok as long as we win? 



Unjustly treated while getting your education paid for...sniffle.
1janiedough

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Posts: 2,457
Reply with quote  #18 
Quote:
Originally Posted by WWCDD
I really appreciate all of the thought out responses to my question.  It is giving me confirmation of some current action plans and a few new avenues to explore.
Specific responses to some comments from above:
- coulda shoulda woulda recorded the abuse but didn't at the last minute
-solid evidence and witnesses are at hand
-not looking for any money out of this -- just the satisfaction that we did not stay silent when all else did (until it was too late)
- the abuse is ongoing to the remaining team: I guarantee you 100% this is not a 'tough' coach situation but a psychotic abusive one and, yes, I'm sure the university is embarrassed and that's why they are denying it.  Even if NCAA compliance hasn't followed up with me I do hope that they are at least tracking complaints and may one day say enough is enough.

Pattern:

The coach walks in with qualifications, does some questionable things year one, then digs in with her 'style' of coaching year two and complaints start but nothing is done, then by year three everybody wants her out and she makes her exit plan to jump to a new school before she gets fired, everybody backs off and she leaves, then the cycle starts again.  So, she's getting up to 4 years of pay to do a destructive job, sequentially.  It's got to stop.  I feel for the next hot potato school and players.  There is a wake of destroyed players.  Even the ones who benefit from her positive attention are themselves 'ruined' in a way because they don't yet realize that they were just used as tools to abuse others.  The psychological realization may hit them in the future that they weren't superstars, they were pawns in a twisted game that had nothing to do with playing softball.  It's making everything and everyone involved rotten.

It's laughable, that on top of this, she decides who gets money, awards, and recommendations too. 
The merit of the player is in their perceived loyalty to the coach to support her while she abuses the other players, always using them to keep herself arms-length when there are witnesses and doing the worst damage directly when there are none. 

But I digress.  Please keep sharing your experiences.  I am at the point of finding a lawyer and would also like more advice about going public with complaints.
I sort of thought I should have a lawyer in place first to prevent any action coming back at me.

Has anyone gone to the press publicly (not anonymously) with complaints about a school or coach and had a positive response or negative response?
Did anyone get sued over it?





Name names otherwise no merit because people have to take your word for it.  Abusive coaches will have a trail behind them...transfer.
3leftturns

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Posts: 11,014
Reply with quote  #19 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ultsoftballparent
Blaming parents is the easy way out.  Maybe the way your team is run might equate to so called "Litigious/hopper parents"  

Softball is a sport which is suppose to be fun

Our team had a ton of fun, since our 'Brita parent filter' never malfunctioned
ultsoftballparent

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Posts: 28
Reply with quote  #20 
How many of these student athletes in softball are getting their education paid for?  12 Scholarships-20 to 30 players per team.  System made for abuse since scholarship players have too much to lose!!!  
3leftturns

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Posts: 11,014
Reply with quote  #21 
A coach of a non-revenue sport is fish-in-the-barrel to lose their high-five- to six-figure salary for actually being abusive.

An AD, fixated on football and men's basketball, will cut that bait at even a sniff of legitimate smoke.

A huge risk for the coach
TheNarrator

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Posts: 3,159
Reply with quote  #22 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ultsoftballparent
How many of these student athletes in softball are getting their education paid for?  12 Scholarships-20 to 30 players per team.  System made for abuse since scholarship players have too much to lose!!!  


So which one is it?  Since you are intimating that not many of them have their education paid for, what do they have to lose?
ultsoftballparent

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Posts: 28
Reply with quote  #23 
My point is most student athletes are getting conned and manipulated into thinking they need to put up with the abuse.  
SoftballFamily

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Posts: 30
Reply with quote  #24 
I'll tell you what  they have to lose: future references for employment or graduate studies,
their integrity being questioned by other coaches when their current coach chooses to 
"share" their side of the story!!    I know of coaches who have implicitly and explicitly told student athletes that they need to "tread lightly" because "softball is a very small world." The players are afraid to speak up.  Speaking up against a person(s) of authority can have serious consequences if they don't transfer out of the school: less playing time, more verbal abuse from the coach, being singled out in front of the team for perceived infractions, etc. I've seen it up close and personal.  It's not pretty.  You either transfer and hope the coaches release you without making things even worse, stick it out and possibly hate life and softball, or become a "regular" student.  We've also learned that if it's not a problem for your kid or family, then nobody will join in and speak up.  Your kid might be a "coach favorite" and therefore none of the issues apply to you personally - so why bother to get involved??   I could tell you personal accounts of what we and other families we know that have kids playing college sports have endured and it would sound very similar to what the original poster stated.  It's not an isolated incident by any means.  However, if a parent speaks up and brings blatant issues to the coach's, AD, or compliance office attention then all hell breaks loose!! 

ultsoftballparent

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Posts: 28
Reply with quote  #25 
We just Celebrated Independence Day.  Do we truly have Independence if we continue to chose not to speak up and act on injustice and abuse?
TheNarrator

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Posts: 3,159
Reply with quote  #26 
Most folks believe college-aged kids are adults and should fight their own battles.  You obviously do not believe they are mentally capable of doing this, so we can just agree to disagree.
SoftballFamily

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Posts: 30
Reply with quote  #27 
College aged kids are technically adults, but the deck is stacked against them in these circumstances.  They are going up again savvy coaches who hold all the power and control over their futures - on and off the field.  What 18 - 22 year old has the ability to go toe to toe with a coach, AD, or compliance office???  Do you seriously think this is a "fair fight??"  "Best" case scenario, they are labeled as "trouble players" for speaking up for themselves, or they are continuously persecuted and end up hating their college life and sport.  
ultsoftballparent

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Posts: 28
Reply with quote  #28 
By the way adults do not fight their battles on their own.  They hire lawyers and also use their network they have built over a lifetime.  Let's support our young athletes which don't have the means to fight on their own!!
PDad

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Posts: 3,887
Reply with quote  #29 
Quote:
Originally Posted by 1janiedough
Name names otherwise no merit because people have to take your word for it.

Based on article linked by OP in first post on UCS, appears to be talking about Jaime Wohlbach at East Stroudsburg Univ. Jaime was fired by Delaware mid 2015 season and hired by ESU in Dec 2015.

Article linked by OP: http://www.delawareonline.com/story/sports/college/2015/04/13/ud-softball-coach-wohlback-fired-mid-season/25741339/

Subsequent article: http://www.delawareonline.com/story/sports/college/ud/2015/04/15/firing-ud-softball-coach-support-sides/25840307/
 
Kurosawa

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Posts: 2,597
Reply with quote  #30 
Quote:
Originally Posted by uwApoligist
Be careful what you are sharing with NCAA compliance department.  Ultimately NCAA works for the schools. Yes, they make rules for all schools to follow, but they also spend a lot of time sharing information from school to school to keep lawsuits down.


Yes, the compliance office at the school or department at the NCAA have nothing to do with what are more likely to be civil rights, not compliance, issues. Body shaming, sexual harassment, etc., can be infractions of Title IX, which is enforced by the Office of Civil Rights (although, under Trump, I expect it will be neutered).

Check the school's codes of conduct to see if he/she might be violating them. He might also be guilty of violating local assault, harassment, and other laws. See: https://law.marquette.edu/assets/sports-law/pdf/gIBBINS.2614.pdf

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