Georgia Tech women's basketball coach fired over 'toxic' and 'hostile' culture

101121 Atlanta; Georgia Tech coach MaChelle Joseph watches from the sideline during the closing minutes of their loss to the Connecticut Huskies at Alexander Memorial Coliseum Sunday afternoon in Atlanta, Ga., Nov. 21, 2010. Jason Getz

ATLANTA — Georgia Tech women’s basketball coach MaChelle Joseph was fired Tuesday after being put on leave on February 27 for what was termed a pending personnel matter.

Two very different explanations for the firing have emerged.

Joseph’s attorney made the announcement in a news release, calling it “the culmination of an unlawful campaign of retaliation against her for advocating for gender equity in athletics at Georgia Tech.”

Tech released its own statement shortly after the statement from Joseph’s attorney Lisa Banks.

According to the release, the school said that an independent investigation had found that every member of the 2018-19 team had reported  “concerns regarding alleged emotional or mental mistreatment” by Joseph. In the report, players described bullying and verbal, emotional and mental abuse.

Channel 2 Sports Director Zach Klein requested a copy of the 16-page report of the independent investigation and received it shortly after Joseph was fired.

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," athletic director Todd Stansbury said in a statement. "The findings outlined in the report have left us no choice but to dismiss Coach Joseph."

It brought an end to a 16-year tenure as head coach, preceded by two seasons as an assistant.

Joseph released this statement before Georgia Tech released a final report on the investigation.

"Georgia Tech has been my home for the past 18 years, and the players and the staff have been my family. I have so many great memories of the amazing journey we have been on with this program. I will be forever grateful for all of the young women who took a chance on Tech and on me. They have forever changed this program and my life.

I want to thank all of the Georgia Tech women's basketball fans, supporters, alumni, and donors for your unwavering support and friendship.

Although this day came sooner than I expected, I am thankful that I had the opportunity to work with such a special team of great people and players. This is the most talented team we have ever had in women's basketball at Georgia Tech – built from 3 top-25 recruiting classes in a row and 2 of the past 3 ACC Freshman of the Year recipients. This young, talented team is poised for an incredible run in 2019, and I am excited to watch them achieve greatness.

Thank you to all my current and former athletes, coaches, and fans of the Georgia Tech women's basketball program. I am forever grateful for the past 18 years with you."