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Syracuse University’s external investigation into allegations against former women’s basketball head coach Quentin Hillsman revealed that SU Athletics did not adequately “identify, escalate or address concerning behavior or complaints” raised by athletes.
In a statement, Director of Athletics John Wildhack announced the investigation had interviewed more than 55 athletes, managers, coaches and administrators out of the 120 people who were invited to participate. After reviewing athlete exit interviews and surveys, texts, emails and other reports, the finding revealed a “concerning” number of players and managers who described an “unhealthy environment and culture,” the report stated.
The university and athletic department have taken action to improve a culture that prioritizes athletes’ well-being, the statement said in response to the findings.
SU did not release the counsel’s findings, stating personal matters and interviewee confidentiality. The university said Wildhack’s statement will be the only information released about the investigation.
The investigation arose after The Athletic reported allegations of bullying, inappropriate behavior and harassment within the women’s basketball program. Eleven women’s basketball players left the program following the 2020-21 season.
Several SU employees were aware of Hillsman’s mistreatment and inadequately handled the situation, The Athletic report stated.
Hillsman resigned shortly after the university opened an external investigation into the allegations, along with Ronnie Enoch, the director of recruiting and athlete performance. Deputy Athletic Director Kimberly Keenan-Kirkpatrick was allegedly aware of the negative team culture and inappropriate behavior and is also no longer employed by SU. Director of Program Management and Development Cedric Solice — also mentioned in the report — is no longer with the program.
In addition to the coaching and administrative staff changes, the university partnered with Real Response, a real-time anonymous reporting platform for athletes to anonymously report issues about their athletics experience, the statement said. The reporting system will provide centralized documentation that allows Syracuse Athletics to identify and respond to issues of abuse and misconduct.
The statement also said the athletics department will “reform” its process to ensure that complaints from athletes, managers and staff are escalated and promptly addressed. The athletic department will also consult outside programs to train coaches and administrators on promoting student well-being.
Wildhack’s statement failed to address specific details about changes within the women’s basketball program, including details about Vonn Read’s promotion to acting head coach.
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