SU WBB report finds the university “did not adequately identify, escalate, or address concerning behavior or complaints raised by student-athletes.”

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INDIANAPOLIS, IN – APRIL 05: Head coach Quentin Hillsman of the Syracuse Orange and players react in the first quarter against the Connecticut Huskies during the championship game of the 2016 NCAA Women’s Final Four Basketball Championship at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on April 5, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — After a report from The Athletic citing a number of former Syracuse Women’s Basketball players’ unhappiness with the program, which came during an offseason that saw around a dozen players transfer from the program, Syracuse University has released the findings of an independent investigation into its culture.

“While a number of players enjoyed positive experiences with the program, a concerning number of players and managers who came forward described an unhealthy environment and culture,” Wildhack wrote in a statement Friday.

O’Melveny & Myers LLP is the outside firm which conducted the report and interviewed more than 55 student-athletes, student managers, coaches and administrators.

Former coach Quentin Hillsman, who stepped down in July, has already accepted another head coaching job in Spain. Vonn Read, who has been with program since 2011 is the acting head coach for the upcoming season.

You can read the full statement below:

I have been fully briefed on the findings of O’Melveny & Myers LLP, the outside counsel retained to investigate allegations against former Coach Quentin Hillsman and other staff members within the women’s basketball program. Our University’s highest priority is ensuring our student-athletes’ success and well-being, on and off the basketball court.   

Following interviews with more than 55 student-athletes, student managers, coaches, and administrators (120 were invited to participate), and after reviewing materials, including text and email communications, student-athlete exit interviews and surveys, and other reports, the review has concluded two key findings:

  • While a number of players enjoyed positive experiences with the program, a concerning number of players and managers who came forward described an unhealthy environment and culture.
  • Athletic Department processes and personnel did not adequately identify, escalate, or address concerning behavior or complaints raised by student-athletes. 

In response to these findings, the University and the Department of Athletics have taken a number of actions to improve accountability to our student athletes and foster a culture that prioritizes their well-being. These actions include:

  • Making several changes to the coaching and administrative staff.
  • Contracting with Real Response, a real time anonymous reporting platform for student-athletes where they can anonymously report any issues about their experiences. Real Response, provides a centralized documentation repository that will help the Athletics Department identify and respond to these issues quickly.
  • Reforming its processes to ensure that it promptly receives, escalates, and addresses any complaints from student-athletes, managers, or staff. 
  • Engaging a culture consultant to provide training to coaches and administrators on strategies for promoting student-athlete wellbeing while creating winning athletics programs. 

The University thanks the many witnesses who confidentially came forward to share their experiences with the program.  We also understand and respect the privacy of those who preferred not to participate. Because students and other interviewees shared information in confidence with the outside firm, and because the findings relate to private personnel matters, this statement is the only information the University will release about this matter.

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