Editor’s note: This article includes descriptions of harassment.
A day after the announcement of Syracuse women’s basketball coach Quentin Hillsman’s resignation on Monday, The Athletic published a detailed article describing several instances when people alerted Syracuse officials about Hillsman’s misconduct.
The article came one month after The Athletic’s first article outlined Syracuse athletes and staff members’ accusations of unwanted physical contact, threats and bullying by Hillsman. After the 2020-21 season, 12 players transferred from Syracuse for undisclosed reasons.
After the allegations against Hillsman were publicized in June 2021, Syracuse University hired a private law firm to investigate the allegations against the head coach.
Since then, Syracuse Athletics announced Hillsman’s resignation, and assistant coach Ronnie Enoch — who was also accused of inappropriate behavior — is no longer a member of Syracuse women’s basketball staff, syracuse.com reported.
The Athletic’s most recent article describes the accusations of bullying, harassment and misconduct against Hillsman and focuses specifically on high-ranking Syracuse officials’ knowledge of the situation and their apparent lack of action in regard to the player’s claims.
Former Syracuse player Lynnae Lampkins told The Athletic that she was “humiliated and demeaned by Hillsman” for two years, and an incident involving the mistreatment of her teammate Troya Berry was “the last straw” in her decision to leave the team.
In the Athletic article, Lampkins recalled witnessing an exchange between Berry and Hillsman after finishing a set of sprints in 2010. Berry was gasping for air — she was diagnosed with asthma after arriving at Syracuse and kept an inhaler on the sideline — when she walked to the sideline to grab her inhaler. Hillsman yelled, “If you use that inhaler, you’re not playing in the Pitt game,” The Athletic article said.
“The only time Troya used (her inhaler) was when she desperately needed it,’’ Lampkins says. “It wasn’t like she was trying to get out of practice. She played hard … She couldn’t breathe.’’
After that practice, Lampkins told The Athletic she wrote an anonymous letter to a Syracuse compliance officer. She wrote about the incident with Berry and detailed what she considered to be an excessively grueling practice earlier in the season. Lampkins asked her father to send the letter from an anonymous email to protect her identity.
Later, Lampkins said Hillsman gathered the staff and players and refenced the letter she had sent in search of the “rat in the room,” she told The Athletic. Lampkins said she spoke with then-athletic director Daryl Gross about the misconduct and emailed then-Syracuse chancellor Nancy Cantor about it, too.
The Athletic detailed several instances of players alerting school officials of Hillsman’s misconduct and instances where officials witnessed the inappropriate behavior firsthand. The first complaint came in 2009 and the most recent was at the conclusion of the 2020-21 season, according to The Athletic.
Three players said they filed a complaint to SU’s compliance department in 2018-19 only to have the department inform Hillsman of the complaint and then confront the team, according to The Athletic.
“Compliance went straight to him and told him what the player said instead of investigating it themselves,” an anonymous former player told The Athletic. “It was the power dynamic where he would say like, ‘Y’all think you can go to them? They called me the second you told them.’”
University officials, including senior women’s administrator Kimberly Keenan-Kirkpatrick, faculty athletic representative Rick Burton and associate professor Catherine Cornwell — in addition to Gross and Cantor — were informed of the allegations against Hillsman in exit interviews with players, The Athletic reported.
An anonymous player told The Athletic she informed Cornwell of incidents including one time Hillsman “made like he was going to punch one of her teammates, his clenched fist stopping inches before making contact.”
She said Cornwell took notes “without any emotion.” After the meeting, the player never heard from Cornwell or anyone from the school, according to The Athletic.
Keenan-Kirkpatrick was hired in August 2015 as a deputy athletic director and the school’s senior woman administrator. She was an athletic department liaison with the university’s office of equal opportunity, inclusion and resolution services — an office that provides “sexual harassment training, fields complaints related to discrimination, harassment and sexual misconduct and ensures that the university complies with all state and federal laws pertaining to accommodations, access, sexual and relationship violence, discrimination and harassment, including Title IX,” The Athletic story said.
Keenan-Kirkpatrick, who oversaw five Syracuse sports, traveled with the women’s basketball team several times, one player recalled.
Once, after a loss at Notre Dame, Keenan-Kirkpatrick saw Hillsman berate the players on the plane, The Athletic reported. Two anonymous players present said that Keenan-Kirkpatrick seemed unalarmed by Hillsman’s behavior.
“Hillsman was surrounded by grown men and women who were witnessing this,” an anonymous player told The Athletic. “They must have known it wasn’t right, but they didn’t do anything about it.”
SU has not responded to a request for comment.
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