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Sexual, Physical Abuse Allegations Hit Ex-USA Volleyball Coach

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The former head coach of the University of South Alabama (USA) women’s volleyball team has been hit with sexual harassment allegations and other serious charges. 

Another victim has accused Alexis Meeks-Rydell of physical and psychological abuse, bringing the total number of accusers to nine.

In the new complaint, former USA student-athlete Cassadi Colbert alleged that Meeks-Rydell convened “breakfast clubs” where players would be instructed “to run and do other physical drills” early in the morning until they vomited or passed out from exhaustion. 

According to court documents, the practice caused Colbert extreme stress, anxiety, and distress. Colbert said Meeks-Rydell also behaved inappropriately, engaging in unwanted physical touching, such as forced hugging and pinching students’ buttocks.

The Plaintiffs claim that USA Athletic Director Joel Erdmann and former volleyball assistants Rob Chilcoat and Patricia Gandalfo were aware of the situation but did not intervene. The university declined to comment on the addition of Colbert’s lawsuit.

Lawsuits

Rachael DeMarcus and Alexis Silver are former athletes who filed a similar lawsuit last August against Meeks-Rydell. It was later amended to include six other USA alumni. 

The initial complaint said the ex-head coach allegedly enforced “a climate of fear and intimidation” among the team. She would overtrain her players and force them to play or practice through injuries. 

“Plaintiffs’ athletic and academic aspirations were negatively, severely and irreparably impacted, damaged and ruined by the misconduct,” according to the complaint.

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