Loyola (IL) head coach and recent Basketball Hall of Fame inductee Sheryl Swoopes is being investigated by the school after a massive amount of transfers are fleeing the program for the second consecutive season, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com.
The internal investigation is being launched by the school after 10 of Loyola’s 12 returning scholarship players have transferred or requested a release from their scholarship this offseason. This comes after five players transferred out of the program last season.
Loyola’s student newspaper, The Phoenix, stated in a report earlier this week that the transfers have little to do with basketball and have more to do with Swoopes’ treatment of players outside of basketball.
Swoopes has a tendency to “cross the line” when dealing with members of the program in regards to their performances and personal lives, according to a source close to the team who chose to remain anonymous.
“She really pushes them to the point of misery and to the point where they shut down,” said the source. “A lot of them feel very trapped about who they can talk to in the Athletic Department because regardless of who they choose, it usually gets back to Sheryl … And I think when it gets to that point … there is no outlet.”
The source also said Swoopes manages the players’ social lives outside of basketball. Last season, first-year player Courtney Williams decided not to return to Loyola due to off-court problems with Swoopes.
“It was a lot of stuff off the court that [Swoopes] made difficult, but as far as her coaching style, it wasn’t really a factor,” Williams told The PHOENIX last April. “It was a lot of stuff that was unrelated to basketball.”
Loyola released a statement on Swoopes and the investigation on Friday as well.
“Any time there are allegations of student-athlete mistreatment, it is more than concerning,” Loyola’s deputy athletic director, Jermaine Truax, said in the statement. “The welfare of our student-athletes is paramount. Thus, the Loyola University Chicago Department of Intercollegiate Athletics has asked for an independent and comprehensive University investigation into the women’s basketball program. Coach Swoopes is aware of, and will fully cooperate with, the investigation. We look forward to learning how we can resolve these allegations and improve the student-athlete experience within the women’s basketball program.”
Swoopes has been the women’s head coach at Loyola since 2013 after a legendary playing career that included three Olympic gold medals and four WNBA titles. In three seasons as the school’s head coach, Swoopes is 31-62 after going 14-16 during the 2015-16 season.