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Former Illinois women’s players accuse coaching staff of abuse, racism

Matt Bollant

Matt Bollant (AP Photo)


The football program isn’t the only team at Illinois currently facing accusations of mistreatment by the coaching staff.

Women’s basketball head coach Matt Bollant and his associate head coach Mike Divilbiss have been accused by former players of verbal and emotional abuse, mistreating injuries and making racist remarks to the team. The Chicago Tribune obtained letters written by three former players -- Jacqui Grant (transferred to DePaul), Taylor Gleason (transferred to Oakland) and Taylor Tuck (graduated) -- while the Daily Illini was contacted by a fourth former player, Amarah Coleman (transferred to DePaul).

Grant, Tuck and Gleason all have alleged that they were forced to play through injuries ranging from a broken toe to an enlarged spleen, a result of contracting mono.

But it gets worse for the coaching staff. From the Tribune:

The letters also noted that Bollant and Divilbiss created racial tension among players by derogatorily noting the race of Illini players and opponents and attributing racial stereotypes to each. The families allege black players mostly recruited by former coach Jolette Laws, who was fired by Thomas, at one point were called “crabs” by the current coaches.

One letter alleges that coaches considered having separate practices for African-American players.

An allegation of “sexual inappropriateness” also was levied against Divilbiss.

Gleason and Grant are white. Tuck and Coleman are black.

Divilbiss has already left the program. Bollant is not facing disciplinary action by the university at this time. According to a statement released by the school, they conducted an internal investigation and found “no violation of applicable law or university policy had occurred.”