Holy Cross Coach Called an Abusive Batterer
MANHATTAN (CN) - The longtime women's basketball coach at Holy Cross College abuses his players so badly that the school "cannot even hold an alumni game because the players are so demoralized by the time they leave Holy Cross that they have no desire to return," a former player claims in court.
Ashley Cooper, who played for Holy Cross from September 2011 to May 2013, sued the Trustees of the College of the Holy Cross, coach Bill Gibbons, athletic director Richard Regan Jr. and associate athletic director Ann Zelesky, in New York County Supreme Court.
Cooper, who was on a full athletic scholarship, claims Gibbons' abuse began immediately upon her arrival for the 2011 fall semester.
She claims that during games, Gibbons would "act in an outrageous manner in his yelling, ranting, screaming and hysterics directed towards the Holy Cross players as well as game referees, which prompted players on opposing teams to remark: 'your coach is crazy', among other comments."
She claims that Gibbons "repeatedly and in anger deliberately physically shook plaintiff Cooper and other players by the shoulders" and "repeatedly and violently yanked and pulled plaintiff Cooper by her shirt collar and strongly squeezed the back of her neck causing pain while barking instructions in her face at close range."
During a game against Brown University, Cooper claims, Gibbons struck her so hard on the back that it left a red handprint on her back.
Cooper claims her teammates were so intimidated by Gibbons' conduct they were afraid to report him to school officials, who knew about his abuse but did nothing to stop it.
Numerous exit interviews from graduating players mentioned the coach's abusive conduct, but Gibbons never has been disciplined, and his father and son are still permitted to manage the team's concessions and scorer's table during home games, Cooper says in the lawsuit.
She claims that "the morale of past and present players on the team is so low that Holy Cross cannot even hold an alumni game because the players are so demoralized by the time they leave Holy Cross that they have no desire to return."
Defendants Regan and Zelesky have done nothing about the behavior but helped cover it up, going so far as to refuse to release game films in which Gibbons' abusive behavior was caught on tape, Cooper claims.
After putting up with the abuse for nearly two years, Cooper says, she was forced to transfer to another school, abandoning her scholarship in the process.
She seeks damages for assault and battery, negligent and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and says her love of basketball has been affected by Gibbons' actions.
Gibbons took over as head coach at Holy Cross in 1985 and has 533 career wins at the school.
Cooper is represented by Elizabeth Eilender of New York.