By Michael James
The Tribe Sports
Over the past several years, we’ve watched scores of high-profile men lose their reputations and livelihoods over allegations of abuse of power over the powerless – sometimes based on the mere inference of impropriety.
While most of those cases involved sexual assault or harassment, others involved the mistreatment of subordinates. The tie that binds is that all were ensnared by the #MeToo movement, wherein women felt empowered like never before to come forward with allegations of mistreatment, some even decades old.
In the sports world, former Maryland head football coach D.J. Durkin was suspended by the university after reports of fomenting a culture of fear, intimidation and abuse of players. He was reinstated, then ultimately fired in October – one day later – after a firestorm of community outrage.
Today, Camryn Whitaker, the female head coach of the women’s basketball team at Northern Kentucky, is under fire for similar charges of abuse of players, actions alleged to have gone back as far as the three years she’s been in that position. Numerous players claim to have reported the abuse to school administrators, but claim they have done nothing about it.
At the moment – now that the story has made its way into the news media – the university says it is investigating the allegations, but several players say they haven’t yet been contacted either by the school or the Title IX office, which would handle such inquiries.
The question is this: since we’ve seen what happens to men who are accused of such bad behavior in the #MeToo era, why does the same not apply to Whitaker, who is said to have behaved as badly as her male counterparts?
In other words, why not #HerToo?
In a piece written on a blog popular with college students called The Odyssey Online, Northern Kentucky senior guard Taryn Taugher wrote that Whitaker verbally intimidated, demeaned, screamed and yelled at her players – bullying acts of which can have long-lasting damage.
Taugher went on to state that Whitaker often did her best bullying work behind closed doors on what she deemed her “Crying Couch,” in an office where she could berate players away from the eyes and ears of potential witnesses.
“Humiliation. Making you feel small and insignificant is how she gained control over some of her players,” was what Taugher wrote, adding as a graduating player, “I am free because she no longer controls me. That is why I am speaking out.”
Despite having her accounts corroborated by at least three other players via social media, no action has been taken against Camryn Whitaker.
Although investigations take time, three years seems to be an awful long time to look into allegations of abuse against student-athletes any university is supposedly obligated to protect.
Again, more than likely, if the coach involved were a man, I suspect some action would have been already taken – either suspension, reprimand or termination.
Why hasn’t Whitaker faced any penalties?
In other words, why not #HerToo?
Michael James has spent more than 20 years in sports journalism as a general assignment reporter with the Detroit News, an NBA beat writer for the New York Daily News and as head writer for ESPN’s Quite Frankly With Stephen A. Smith.