Eight days after being placed on paid administrative leave for alleged misconduct, women’s basketball Head Coach Keith Brown resigned Thursday.
Brown and Assistant Coach Tim Valentine went on leave following complaints of verbal abuse by multiple players, and the university had initiated an investigation into the allegations.
The university released a statement on Brown’s resignation attributed to spokeswoman Stacy Kerr.
“Georgetown University Athletic Director Lee Reed today received and accepted the resignation of women’s Basketball Head Coach Keith Brown, effective immediately,” the statement reads. “We expect the highest standards of behavior and professionalism from all members of our university. Actions inconsistent with our values have no place in our community.”
On the evening after the statement announcing the resignation was released, WJLA, which first broke the story about the allegations against Brown, posted audio recordings of Brown speaking to his players. In the recordings, taken after a Sept. 6 training session, Brown can be heard berating his players in profanity-laced tirades, telling one unidentified player, “You’re a dumb f—.”
In another recording, Brown yells at other unidentified players for being “defiant,” saying, “[You’re] f—ing with me just to f— with me. Is that what it is? If you’re being defiant just to be defiant, you’re f—ingwith me.”
In the recordings, Brown repeatedly refers to himself in the third person and references his distinct “vocabulary.”
According to WJLA, Kerr was swift in distancing the university from Brown’s words, saying, “That behavior does not meet expectations and standards for the university and its leaders.”
In addition to the two audio recordings, WJLA quoted three unnamed former Hoya basketball players, all of whom played under Brown in the last two years and were subjected to Brown’s verbal abuse.
“Yeah, I’ve been called like a dumb “F” or dumb “M-F’er … It’s a completely destructive and harmful environment with what these girls are experiencing now,” one former player said, according to WJLA. “It’s upsetting and brings me back to places I don’t like to rethink.”
According to the report, the former players said such language was commonly used by Brown.
“I do think that a lot of coaches are really hard on their players. However, there is a line that can be crossed and I think that line was crossed,” another player said.
According to lawyer Sam Perkins, a founding partner of Brody Hardoon Perkins & Kesten, LLP in Boston, whether the players have legal recourse depends on several factors.
“They are limited in their right to sue for infliction of emotional distress. In college athletics, there is a certain amount of heavy handedness built in to that. It would have to be pretty extreme to warrant a lawsuit,” Perkins said. “It depends on how the victims have been affected and what they choose to do.”
Kerr told THE HOYA that the investigation into the allegations against Brown was “nearing completion” when he resigned, though she would not reveal any specifics on how the investigation was conducted or what it revealed about the accusations of verbal harassment.
Attempts to reach Brown were unsuccessful.
According to the statement, Valentine was never accused of misconduct and was placed on leave only to “ensure the unimpeded progress of the investigation into allegations of unprofessional conduct and the use of inappropriate language in coaching the Georgetown University women’s basketball team.”
Kerr provided more details about why exactly Valentine was placed on leave. School officials were investigating whether he had said anything to the players implying that cooperating with the investigation into Brown would result in “retaliatory” action against the players. The investigation concluded that Valentine had not said anything to that effect, and he has returned to the coaching staff.
The other two assistant coaches, Krystal Reeves-Evans and Kenya Kirkland, were never implicated or placed on leave. The three assistant coaches have been in charge of the team and will continue to lead team practices, which began Oct. 4. Georgetown’s Sports Information policy prohibits assistant coaches from speaking with the media.
Kerr said the findings of the investigation will not be made public so as not to discourage others from raising concerns about misconduct in the future.
Five current players came to Brown’s defense last week when he was first placed on leave, but have not spoken out since the release of the audio recordings and Brown’s resignation.
Former basketball player Sugar Rodgers (COL ’13), who now plays in the WNBA, could not be reached for comment for this story, but she spoke to THE HOYA after Brown was placed on leave last week and emphasized that he had her full support.
“[Brown] said stuff that coaches need to say, like, ‘Touch the damn line.’ Is that verbally abusing somebody?” she said. “He did whatever he could to help me be successful.”
Brown took over as head coach in May 2012, just the seventh coach in the program’s 43-year history.
Kerr did not know if an interim head coach will be named. The team is slated to play its first game against the University of Richmond on Nov. 8.