Georgetown coach Keith Brown resigns after verbally abusing players
(WJLA) - Georgetown head women's basketball coach Keith Brown resigned Thursday, the school announced, amid allegations that he has consistently verbally abused his players over the past several seasons.
Brown's resignation comes after ABC7 obtained audio of the second-year head coach belittling and cursing out players who crossed him as recently as early last month, sources say, as part of what several current and former players call a pattern of verbal abuse.
In audio recordings provided to ABC7 News, Brown can be heard shouting profanities at unidentified players on several occasions. Both of the recordings were taken after a Sept. 6 workout at Georgetown, and in one, he's heard telling a potentially injured player that she was a "dumb f***."
Both Brown, the team's second year head coach, and assistant coach Tim Valentine were placed on administrative leave Oct. 1 amid allegations that he verbally abused his players. Sources say that targets of Brown's abuse have been left "broken and demoralized" over their treatment.
Valentine was never accused of verbally abusing players and has returned to the team, the university says.
"You're ****ing with me just to **** with me"
After the Sept. 6 workout, sources say that Brown decided to confront his players about their tendency to get along on the court but not off the court, during which he launched into a profanity-laced tirade.
"I'm being tested," he says. "The ones who know, know that you should never test me because I have no tolerance for foolishness. I don't believe in perpetuating that bull****."
In the recording, Brown goes on to single out one player who wasn't getting along with her teammates as being defiant.
"That was a Georgetown term," Brown said in reference to the word "defiance." "Now I'm going to translate it to you for the Keith Brown ****. (You're) ****ing with me just to **** with me. Is that what it is? If you're being defiant just to be defiant, you're ****ing with me.
"That's how I see it. I'm from the hood. An educated ****** from the hood."
Georgetown officials almost immediately rebuked Brown after hearing the audio.
"That behavior does not meet expectations and standards for the university and its leaders," Georgetown spokesperson Stacy Kerr said. "It's inconsistent with our values and has no place in our community."
Brown screams at potentially injured player
Later in the recording provided to ABC7, Brown can be heard berating a player who punched a wall in frustration, potentially leaving her unable to practice or play. Brown again referred to himself in third person and talked about his own "vocabulary."
"You're a grown God-****ed woman and (you've) been through this **** up and down a hundred times over," he says in the recording. "Your solution to the problem is not to get frustrated and hit a ****ing wall and **** your **** up so we ain't got no (player)."
He concluded his rant by telling the player, "You're a dumb ****."
We had Jake Wald with the Positive Coaching Alliance listen to the recording. His organization is considered a national leader in efforts to change the culture of coaching, and to make sure sports build up instead of tearing down someone’s character.
"Yeah, that's disappointing to say the least," he said."If you imagine a chemistry professor at Georgetown speaking the same way, how would that change your mind about this whole situation? I think they would be run out of the university right away."
And a former player, who at one time greatly admired Coach Brown, made her feelings clear:
"Unless he makes a major life change, I don't think that he should be coaching women's basketball anywhere in the country."
Brown did not respond to numerous attempts to reach him for comment.
Georgetown players rush to Brown's defense
In a statement released after Brown was placed on leave, Georgetown officials said in a statement that they had immediately started an investigation into the coach's behavior when they first learned of the allegations.
"We are taking steps to ensure this investigation proceeds expeditiously, thoroughly and fairly," Georgetown officials said. "It is important to the investigation for students, coaches, and staff to participate openly and honestly, and we have encouraged them to do so."
Brown has his supporters, most notably a group of players who immediately came to their coach's defense when the allegations became public. Though several players admitted that Brown swears at them when they make mistakes, many attributed his demeanor to his demanding attitude and don't take it personally.
"If you take what he says to heart, then it's going to hurt your feelings," freshman forward Shayla Cooper said. "But we're all D1 players in the Big East Conference, so a coach is not going to babysit us."
Both sophomore guard Katie McCormack and freshman guard Jade Martin defended their coach as well, with Martin saying that if players can't handle it, then they can't handle it.
"I think he's a great coach. I don't want to play with anybody else," McCormick said. "I think a lot of this is blown out of proportion."
"There's a line that can be crossed and that line was crossed"
While several current Hoyas came to Brown's defense, at least three of his former athletes strongly believe that their former coach shouldn't be anywhere near the basketball court.
This trio of former Hoyas all played under Brown over the last two years and have moved on from college basketball, but they say they were subject to their coach's verbal abuse. Each of the athlete's names are being withheld.
"Yeah, I've been called like a dumb "F" or a dumb "M-F'er ... It's a completely destructive and harmful environment with what these girls are experiencing now," one former player said about the culture under Brown. "It's upsetting and it brings me back to places I don't like to rethink.
"All that's used for is to bring a young woman's self-esteem and self-worth down. Unless he makes a major life change, I don't think that he should be coaching women's basketball anywhere in the country."
All three players said that the audio obtained by ABC7 is just the tip of the iceberg - they said that the way Brown is heard in the recording is how he normally speaks to his team.
"That was regular dialogue between him and the players," another ex-Hoya said. "Words hurt, especially from people that you consider your family. These are supposed to be people who uplift us."
"I do think that a lot of coaches are really hard on their players. However, there's a line that can be crossed and I think that line was crossed."
Coaches being hard on players to get the maximum results out of them is nothing new, both current and former players say almost universally. However, as another one of Brown's former players said, there's a line between tough love and outright abuse.
"It became a thing that we were so used to that it became kind of a norm," a third former player said. "Why would you put up with someone talking to you that way? You train yourself to get through it."
Verbal abuse in college sports a continuing trend
The verbal abuse of college athletes has become a hot-button issue over the past several months, a trend that is highlighted by the April dismissal of Rutgers head men's basketball coach Mike Rice.
Rice was caught on camera both verbally and physically abusing players at the New Jersey university, scenes that included the use of gay slurs and images of Rice throwing basketballs at his players when they made mistakes.
More recently, Louisville Cardinals women's lacrosse coach Kellie Young was accused of being abusive toward her players. The school has not taken any disciplinary action on her, and according to the Louisville Courier-Journal, school administrators have no planned "next steps" for dealing with the allegations.
ABC7's Justin Karp contributed to this story.