Syracuse University has launched an official investigation into women’s basketball coach Quentin Hillsman for alleged bullying and inappropriate behavior.
The 50-year-old coach is being blamed for the recent transfer of at least 11 Syracuse basketball players, including starting guard and leading scorer Kiara Lewi and key defensive player Emily Engstler. Since 2018, a total of 20 players have left the team.
Some of the allegations against Hillsman include verbally threatening players, using vulgar language, making players uncomfortable by kissing their foreheads, and hiring a staff member previously accused of sexual harassment.
On Tuesday, the university announced that it has hired an outside firm to conduct an independent probe into the accusations against Hillsman.
“The allegations reported in The Athletic today are troubling,” Senior Associate Vice President for Communications at Syracuse, Sarah Scalese, told Syracuse.com. “Based on the nature of these allegations, Syracuse University is engaging an outside firm to conduct an independent review and will take appropriate action based on its outcome.”
Players Report Alleged Harassment
In an interview with The Athletic, one player recalled how Hillsman allegedly wrapped his arms around her from behind and placed his hands near her pelvic region as “a joke.” She said two others witnessed the incident.
Other athletes also claim they had suicidal thoughts because of Hillsman’s inappropriate behavior and sought mental health counselors’ help because of the abuse.
Asked to comment, Syracuse told The Athletic that its program has always been committed to providing a healthy and competitive environment for all of its student athletes.
“Any behavior – from our student athletes, coaches, and staff – that contradicts our commitment to these ideals is investigated thoroughly, and if necessary, appropriate action is taken,” the university explained.
Call for Other Possible Victims
Scalese assured that Syracuse is taking the issue seriously, though no one from the women’s basketball team has yet filed a formal complaint against Hillsman or the university.
She is also calling on other students athletes who may have experienced any kind of abuse or improper behavior from Hillsman to speak up. “Syracuse University remains focused on the well-being and success of our student athletes,” Scalese said.