Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

Community News Network

November 1, 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
Community News Network
  • Smartphone kill switches are coming

    Smartphones need kill switches. It's a relatively easy solution to the pricey (and irritating) problem of smartphone theft. But who would have thought that the big carriers would team up with Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung and lots of other manufacturers to voluntarily begin adding the technology by July 2015? The cooperative spirit! It makes so much sense!

    April 18, 2014

  • Why do wolves howl?

    Of all the myths that dog the wolf, none is more widely accepted than the idea that wolves howl at the moon. Images of wolves with their heads upturned, singing at the night sky, are as unquestioned as a goldfish's three-second memory or a dog's color-blindness (both also myths).

    April 18, 2014

  • Biggest student loan profits come from grad students

    This week, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the federal government would earn roughly $127 billion from student lending during the next 10 years.

    April 18, 2014

  • quake.jpg Pennsylvania won’t take action following Ohio ruling on quakes, fracking

    Pennsylvania officials plan no action despite new Ohio rules on drilling that affect a seismically active area near the state line.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • VIDEO: Boston bomb scare defendant appears in court

    The man accused of carrying a backpack containing a rice cooker near the Boston Marathon finish line on the anniversary of the bombings was arraigned Wednesday. He's being held on $100,000 bail.

    April 17, 2014

  • Consumer spending on health care jumps as Affordable Care Act takes hold

    Nancy Beigel has known since September that she would need hernia surgery. She couldn't afford it on her $11,000 yearly income until she became eligible for Medicaid in January through President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

    April 17, 2014

  • The case for separate beds

    The other night I slept on a twin bed in the guest room of the house I share with my husband and our two kids.
    It was the best night's sleep I've had in years.

    April 17, 2014

  • Raw oysters spike U.S. rise in bacterial infections, CDC reports

    Raw oysters, so good with hot sauce, increasingly can carry something even more unsettling to the stomach: A bacteria linked to vomiting, diarrhea and pain.

    April 17, 2014

  • To sleep well, you may need to adjust what you eat and when

    Sleep.  Oh, to sleep.  A good night's sleep is often a struggle for more than half of American adults.  And for occasional insomnia, there are good reasons to avoid using medications, whether over-the-counter or prescription.

    April 16, 2014

  • Doctors to rate cost effectiveness of expensive cancer drugs

    The world's largest organization of cancer doctors plans to rate the cost effectiveness of expensive oncology drugs, and will urge physicians to use the ratings to discuss the costs with their patients.

    April 16, 2014