ATLANTA — Former Georgia Tech basketball coach MaChelle Joseph is firing back against abuse allegations saying she's "not the monster" an internal investigation made her out to be.
Joseph released a statement Wednesday saying allegations made during an investigation that led to her termination are part of a "years-long string of actions" against her for advocating gender equality in athletics at Georgia Tech.
[CLICK HERE to read Joseph's entire statement]
In the statement, Joseph acknowledged her coaching methods as tough but stood by them saying, "Though players over the years may have occasionally expressed frustration with my tone or methods, no one in my 16 years as Head Coach has ever accused me of being abusive."
Joseph went on to detail how she expressed her concerns about alleged disparities within the athletic department at Georgia Tech regarding salary for assistant coaches, funding for publicity and marketing, locker rooms and travel. She said whenever she spoke up, she was met with retaliation and harassment.
The investigation, conducted by Littler Mendelson P.C. Employment and Labor Law Solutions Worldwide, was authorized after team members shared concerns about player and staff mistreatment by Joseph. The investigation included interviews with every team member, assistant coaches, administrators, support staff and parents of team members.
Joseph was given the opportunity to respond to the findings of the report on Monday. Athletic director Todd Stansbury made the decision to fire Joseph Tuesday.
"After learning of the concerns of women's basketball student-athletes about Coach Joseph's conduct, Georgia Tech retained the services of Littler Mendelson to conduct an investigation of the allegations," Stansbury said in a statement. "The findings outlined in the report have left us no choice but to dismiss Coach Joseph."
Among the findings of the report, obtained by an open-records request, at least nine members of the team said they could not trust any member of the coaching staff. None said they trusted Joseph.
Players said that they felt Joseph pressured them to play through injury or sickness and found her to be demeaning and manipulating. Several players said they felt that information shared with a team psychologist was shared with the coaching staff. They used words such as toxic, draining and hostile to describe the team environment. Stansbury called the report “heartbreaking.”
[CLICK HERE to read the entire report. WARNING: Some may find the language and content in the report explicit and/or inappropriate.]
In her statement, Joseph said the report's findings that she verbally and emotionally abused her players is false and based on facts and statements taken entirely out of context. A chart broke down each of the specific the allegations.
For example, in one instance Joseph said she never called one of her players a "coward" like the report indicated but said on occasion, "We were playing like cowards and scared."
Joseph added, "While my communication with my players may at times be crude, this is not uncommon in athletics and certainly not at the highest levels of collegiate athletics." As for the report findings that she called someone "fat," Joseph said, "I have never called one of my players fat. After to back-to-back wins, I have stated, 'We can't get fat and happy.'"
Joseph says while she is a tough and demanding coach, she is "not the monster the Report makes me out to be." In the statement she fires back at the school saying, "If Georgia Tech had been interested in actually determining whether I mistreated players or staff, it would have hired an experienced investigator, included me in the process, and allowed me an opportunity to respond to specific allegations and provide relevant information."
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