A player on Northern Kentucky University women’s basketball team has accused the head coach of being emotionally abusive and the university of silencing allegations.
The university says it is investigating the claims.
Taryn Taugher, the lone senior on NKU women’s basketball team, wrote a post in The Odyssey alleging emotional abuse by head coach Camryn Whitaker. Taugher also alleges that Northern Kentucky University’s athletic department is willing to “silence the multiple emotional abuse allegations.”
The Odyssey is similar to a blog site, where contributors publish content. It is popular with college students.
In her post, Taugher alleges that she has been a “punching bag” since her first practice in June 2016. In the 2017-18 season, Taugher played in all 31 games with five starts.
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Whitaker has been with NKU since 2016. Prior to that, she coached one season at University of Kentucky and three at University of Dayton.
“These verbal attacks were mostly behind closed doors, in her office, on what she liked to call the “crying couch” where it was your word against hers. Where she could get you alone and tear you apart. These meetings were mostly done weekly and before games, so you were so messed up from your beat-up-session that you couldn’t possibly play well by game time,” Taugher wrote.
Taugher’s post came 19 days after the Norse played their last game of the season. Taugher said she had one year of eligibility with the Norse after this season, but was told by Whitaker that the coach wouldn’t decide whether to grant her that year until after this season ended. That forced Taugher to change her major.
On Monday, three players mentioned in Taugher’s column confirmed her accounts on social media.
Taugher said that Reece Munger, a sophomore on this year’s team, was punished for bringing her parents into a meeting.
“This infuriated Coach Whitaker, and since this happened on game day, she forbid Reece from coming to shoot around before the game, the game itself, and in the locker room and proceeded to tell the other players that Reece was a “(expletive) bad friend and teammate,” Taugher said in her column.
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Munger announced Monday she would be transferring, and both of her parents backed up Taugher’s claims on social media accounts.
Kasey Utrecht, who played until 2017, tweeted on Sunday night that she had met with athletic director Ken Bothof and the Title IX office during the 2016-17 season. Utrecht was punished for socializing with Shar’Rae Davis. After that, players had playing time taken away for socializing with Utrecht.
“When Kasey (Utrecht and Shar’Rae (Davis) were spotted sitting next to each other on the bus in the middle of a four-game road trip, Kasey was again reprimanded and played only a few minutes in the game,” Taugher wrote. “Shar’Rae did not play at all and was forced to sit alone at the end of the bench. Word quickly spread that if you associated with Shar’Rae, then your playing time would diminish and you would face the wrath of Coach Whitaker. Shar’Rae sat alone on the bus, in the restaurant, and was even moved into her own hotel room when everyone else had a roommate.”
Davis repeated all of this in a long video post on Facebook on Monday night.
The university did not comment on Taugher’s claims, instead releasing a statement Monday night that it would look into them further.
“The university is aware of complaints surrounding the women’s basketball program,” the statement, written by NKU director of public relations Anna Wright said. “We recognize the courage it takes to share personal stories.”
NKU said it took complaints seriously and they have been “thoroughly reviewed separately by the Title IX and Athletics offices, and addressed in accordance with university policy.”
The university said there are ongoing efforts to improve communications and relationships between the program’s leadership and student-athletes.
“We are committed to fostering a safe, healthy and inclusive learning environment for anyone who is a part of our campus community. Our students’ voices will be heard and the Athletics office will continue to monitor and assess our programs, taking appropriate corrective actions as needed,” NKU said.