SOUTH EUCLID, Ohio — New coaches will soon be taking the helm of the women’s basketball team at Notre Dame College. The new leadership comes after parents and players accused both the head and assistant coaches of bullying and racist rants.
Several parents reported their concerns to News 5. Jennifer Martcheva said her daughter told her about the environment this past fall during her senior pre-season.
“She called me from her car, really upset, crying, kind of angry too at the same time and then stated that she was really, really tired of being called the ‘N’ word,” Martcheva recalled.
She immediately alerted the school’s athletic director, who told her the behavior would be addressed.
Martcheva said things temporarily improved, but her daughter soon reported the coaches appeared to be retaliating by limiting some student athletes’ playing time. Another parent told News 5 the players were also told to run lengthy drills while they questioned who reported them to the athletic director.
During a team trip to Florida over winter break, Martcheva said the coaches were drinking and had her daughter drive her teammates in a large passenger van for which she was not licensed.
She and other parents believe the team’s first losing record in more than a decade can be blamed on the coaches’ behavior and treatment of the student athletes. Some were considering transferring colleges, even though they enjoyed other aspects of the school.
“The girls had absolutely zero confidence that they could win a game or were even good at it,” Martcheva said.
When she attended senior night at Notre Dame College, she informed the school’s president about the ongoing issues. He promised to launch an investigation into the claims.
The college would not share details of the accusations or investigation with News 5, but issued the following statement:
“The College has been made aware of the comments but does not discuss student or personnel matters, both of which are confidential.”
Wednesday, after the season ended, families received an email from the school’s Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics. It informed them about a “change in leadership” for the women’s basketball team and said “a coaching search will begin immediately.”
Martcheva and others applauded the move and said the issue was never with the school. Though Martcheva’s daughter will be graduating this year, she hopes future leadership will be able to foster the team’s talent.
“This last year doesn’t speak to what NDC can do with women’s basketball because I really do think it’s a fantastic program,” she said.
News 5 has reached out to both outgoing coaches, but has not heard back.
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