One college basketball season is canceling their season — and it has nothing to do with COVID-19.
The players on NCAA Division I Detroit Mercy women’s basketball team canceled the remainder of its season after accusing head coach AnnMarie Gilbert of abuse, the Detroit Free Press reported Thursday.
A letter, signed by 14 players and their parents, was sent to Titans athletic director Robert Vowels Jr. that detailed a multitude of abusive incidents involving Gilbert.
“It’s been a nightmare,” a parent told The Detroit Free Press under the condition of anonymity. “Our girls are just not the same.”
After parents held video meetings to discuss the extent of the situation, the letter was crafted as they were “blown away by the horrific stories of utter disregard for the care and wellbeing of our student-athletes.”
Among the allegations, players said that Gilbert told them not to tell trainers if they thought they were hurt. She allegedly told the team that “if your bone is sticking out, you need to be giving something.” The team was also told to “disregard or not report” COVID-19 symptoms.
Gilbert previously spent a decade at Eastern Michigan, where she resigned in 2012 after she receiving a two-year show-cause penalty. She most recently worked at Division II school Virginia Union.
“The health and well-being of our student-athletes is our athletic department’s top priority,” a statement from Vowels obtained by the Free Press read. “We have talked with all players and members of our women’s basketball program about their concerns. We take them very seriously and will continue to review them closely.
“As we have prioritized the needs of our student-athletes during this challenging academic year, we have decided to suspend the 2020-21 women’s basketball season.”
Additionally, Gilbert is accused of instructing the team to do extra workouts to show their commitment and to drop classes that interfered with their practice time – even if the courses were required to graduate.
The letter indicates that assistant coaches were also allegedly “humiliated and harassed in front of players and on the sideline.”
Vowels reportedly met with players individually Tuesday to discuss the letter and allegations. Players told Vowels Wednesday afternoon they wouldn’t play in their next game Saturday if Gilbert was still their coach, prompting the decision to cancel the season completely.
The Titans finished the year just 1-13 and had lost six straight before their season was canceled.