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Illinois women's basketball players allege racism, abuse from coaches

The allegations state that coaches discussed holding separate practices for African-American players.

Brett Carlsen-USA TODAY Sports

(Update, July 1: Seven ex-Illinois players filed a $10 million federal lawsuit against the school. Original story published May 18 below.)

The parents of three women's basketball players at the University of Illinois have all sent letters to the university alleging abuse by head coach Matt Bollant and his assistants that they say included racism, harassment and verbal abuse. The allegations include the following, via The News-Gazette:

  • The coaching staff toyed with the idea of having separate practices for African-American players, in hope that they would quit.
  • Coaches threatened that players would lose their scholarships for athletic reasons.
  • Coaches would call players from the old coaching staff "CRABS" and "the dog pound," due in part to their skin color, and said they were part of a losing culture.
  • Coaches ignored major injuries and claimed the players weren't tough enough.

Assistant coach Mike Divilbiss was also implicated in the letters from the parents of the three players -- Taylor Tuck, Taylor Gleason and Jacqui Grant. He left the program on Monday, with the Public Affairs office saying the decision to part ways was due to "current goals and objectives of DIA and the women's basketball program."

The university conducted an internal review of the situation in April, according to The Daily Illini, and did not find any violations it felt it needed to report.

In the Public Affairs office's release, it was stated that after the preliminary review, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Access and Academic Human Resources found that there was "no violation of applicable law or University policy." According to the release, the offices conducted more than 20 interviews with individuals who are both currently or formerly affiliated with the program.

This is the second claim of abuse by Illinois coaches in the past week. Last week, a number of former Illini football players alleged abuse by coach Tim Beckman. The university has commissioned an independent investigation of those allegations, while the investigation into wrongdoing in the women's basketball program was done internally.