Ex-Loyola player says Swoopes created hostile environment

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

CHICAGO (AP) A former Loyola University basketball player says women’s coach Sheryl Swoopes created a hostile environment and routinely threatened to cut players from the roster or have their scholarships scrapped.

The university said last week it was investigating the women’s basketball program after allegations of player mistreatment surfaced. Details of the allegations were not released.

Former player Cate Soan told ABC’s “Good Morning America” in a segment broadcast Thursday that Swoopes, who has coached at Loyola for three seasons, made her feel “belittled” and “humiliated.”

“It made it hard to play,” she said. “It wasn’t about working hard and having fun anymore. It was about surviving.”

The environment became so hostile that players were turning on one another and mistrust spread throughout the athletic department, Soan said.

Ten of the 12 players that were expected to return from the current team have been granted or asked for releases to transfer from the private Chicago university.

Deputy athletic director Jermaine Truax said last week the allegations were “more than concerning” and Swoopes “will fully cooperate” with the investigation. Team spokesman Leo Krause said in an email Thursday that there were no updates on the investigation, which remains ongoing.

Swoopes did not respond to an email seeking comment Thursday.

Swoopes led Texas Tech to the 1993 NCAA title and was the first player signed by the WNBA. She won four straight titles with the Houston Comets, earned three Olympic gold medals and was elected to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this month.

Swoopes was hired in 2013 with only limited coaching experience, having served as an assistant at Mercer Island High School in Washington state in 2010, according to Loyola’s website. Her Loyola teams have gone a combined 31-62.