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Ex-Holy Cross Basketball Player Sues Over Alleged Abuse

By Aditi Mukherji, JD on October 18, 2013 1:35 PM

A former Holy Cross women's basketball player filed a lawsuit against the school and the team's longtime coach, Bill Gibbons, alleging he was verbally, physically, and emotionally abusive. With the claims under review, Gibbons is currently on administrative leave.

Does this spell the end of Gibbons' illustrious coaching career at Holy Cross?

Holy Cross Abuse Lawsuit

In her lawsuit, former player Ashley Cooper alleges Gibbons' behavior was worse than Rutgers University men's basketball coach Mike Rice, who was fired this spring after a video went viral that showed him berating and kicking players and throwing basketballs at them in practice, reports The Associated Press.

Cooper's suit claims Gibbons would often violently shake players' shoulders, squeeze their necks, and shout in their faces. He also allegedly hit Cooper during a 2012 game, leaving a red handprint on her back.

If these allegations are true, Gibbons could be liable for assault, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The main issue will be deciphering actionable abuse from his aggressive coaching style.

Holy Cross could also be liable for damages if it, as the suit alleges, knew about the abuse but failed to stop it.

Administrative Leave

Gibbons announced on Wednesday that he is taking voluntary, paid administrative leave while the claims are under review.

Administrative leave is a temporary leave from a job assignment that keeps regular pay and benefits intact. It is not a category of leave, like sick leave or annual leave, but describes a person's work status.

According to the University of Washington, universities and colleges typically place an employee on administrative leave to:

  • secure sensitive information or resources;
  • facilitate the investigation of allegations of misconduct, which if true, could expose people or school resources to legal liability; and
  • remove disruptive employees from the workplace pending assessment of the situation.

Should Gibbons emerge from this scandal unscathed, he can return to work from administrative leave with a few bureaucratic hoops to jump through.

Meanwhile, Cooper gave up her full scholarship at Holy Cross and transferred to New York University out of alleged fear of retaliation from filing the lawsuit. She's seeking compensation for the costs that resulted from transferring and giving up her scholarship as well as unspecified punitive damages, reports The AP.

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