WASHINGTON (WJLA) - It was in August 2012 that Georgetown University women's basketball coach Keith Brown spoke at a pep rally alongside his team, just months after he was hired.
He then led the Hoyas to a middling 15-16 record in his first season on the job. Less than a year later, Brown is off the job amid allegations of verbally abusing his players.
Multiple sources say that complaints were recently made against Brown about his use of disrespectful language directed at players, who could no longer tolerate it.
Assistant coach Tim Valentine was also placed on leave, Georgetown officials say, while an investigation into the misconduct goes on.
Sources describe several players who were the target of Brown's verbal abuse as "broken and demoralized" over their treatment.
University officials would not elaborate on why assistant coach Tim Valentine was also placed on leave, but multiple sources familiar with the program allege that Coach Brown commonly used swearing, demeaning, and humiliating tactics to get results from his athletes.
In response to the allegations, five current members of the Hoyas defended their coach to ABC7, saying that Brown is "tough but fair."
"I think that any Division 1 program is going to have a coach that is intense and ready to play," Hoyas sophomore guard Katie McCormick said. "I think a lot of this is blown out of proportion. It's unnecessary."
Jade Martin, a freshman guard, acknowledged that swearing does go on at Hoyas practices, but that it's never directed at players.
"It's just toward the situation," Martin said. "He's trying to get his point across."
The Hoyas begin the 2013-14 season on Nov. 8 with a home game against Richmond.
In a statement released Tuesday night, Georgetown University spokesperson Stacy Kerr announced that an investigation into Brown's conduct was underway.
Sources say two players who had run-ins with Brown have left the team in the last couple of years, and that more players may very well follow. He served as the team's assistant coach for several years before being promoted before the 2012-13 season.
Georgetown's statement reads in full:
Two weeks ago, concerns were raised regarding unprofessional conduct and the use of inappropriate language in coaching the Georgetown University women’s basketball team. Georgetown takes very seriously any allegations of misconduct and the university has an established review process that carefully investigates such cases.
As soon as we learned of this, the university immediately started an investigation into the conduct. We are taking steps to ensure this investigation proceeds expeditiously, thoroughly and fairly. It is important to the investigation for students, coaches, and staff to participate openly and honestly, and we have encouraged them to do so.
The investigation is ongoing and no conclusions have yet been reached. As is typical with these types of investigations, as we conduct this investigation, head coach Keith Brown and Assistant Coach Tim Valentine are on administrative leave.
Georgetown University expects the highest standards of ethics, integrity and professionalism from all members of its community.
In June, 2013 the Georgetown University Athletics Department adopted a new policy, “Maintaining a Respectful and Professional Relationships with Student Athletes. In addition, members of the Georgetown Athletics Department attended mandatory training sessions led by University leadership and outside counsel to ensure understanding of the new policy and to discuss issues relating to appropriate behavior between coaches, trainers and student athletes.
Practice and conditioning for the team will continue during this investigation. Coaching responsibilities are being handled by the assistant coaches.