Nebraska reinstates softball coach despite players' complaints of toxic program culture

Nebraska coach Rhonda Revelle collects softballs during practice in Lincoln, Neb., Wednesday, May 22, 2013. Nebraska plays Oregon in a best-of-three NCAA college softball Super Regional series starting Saturday night in Eugene, Ore.  (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Rhonda Revelle is in her 27th season as Nebraska's softball coach. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Nebraska softball coach Rhonda Revelle is set to kick off her 28th season with the Huskers next month. Her players reportedly aren’t so thrilled, not that the athletic department seemed to care.

The Huskers announced Sunday that Revelle had been reinstated after months of paid leave as an outside investigation took place into the treatment of her players. Now, the Washington Post is reporting that multiple players have come forward with a dark account of the program culture Revelle has cultivated.

The players reportedly came forward to the Nebraska athletic department at the end of last season through an anonymous survey in which “a vast majority” of players alleged they had been verbally abused and harassed by Revelle.

That prompted a meeting with athletic director Bill Moos, who was reportedly told a majority of players sought psychological counseling over Revelle’s coaching and her treatment led to a number of transfers. One member of the team reportedly told Moos she had experienced suicidal thoughts because of the team’s climate.

That led to Revelle’s paid leave, but that’s over now, and players are reportedly considering a boycott of the team’s first practice this year.

In addition to the potential boycott, players detailed with the Post what playing for Revelle was like:

Players said Revelle asked them to report to her on each other’s love lives and texted players at all hours of the day and night. In one instance, a player said Revelle texted her nearly 100 times over the course of one afternoon.

One recent former player said she suffered an injury during a game, and while lying in bed that night crying in pain, she received harassing text messages from Revelle questioning her injury. According to several players, investigators were told of another former player who was bullied into playing through a thumb injury for much of a season only to be examined by a family doctor after the season, who told her that she should have been in a cast for a month. Her family covered the medical bills out of pocket. Investigators also were told of a player who was in a serious car accident and said she was rushed straight to an away game without receiving a concussion test and later suffered headaches and post-concussion symptoms.

Obviously, all of that adds up to what sounds like a dangerous situation in Nebraska, but it’s also not so rare in college athletics these days, especially in women’s athletics.

Longtime North Carolina women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell resigned after allegations of racially insensitive comments and pressuring players to play through injuries. A Georgia Tech women’s basketball coach was fired for player abuse. A Northern Kentucky women’s basketball coach still has her job despite accounts of what amounted to psychologically torturing her players. Same with Seton Hall softball a few years ago.

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