BOSTON (AP) — Longtime Holy Cross women's basketball coach Bill Gibbons stepped aside Wednesday while the college reviews claims by a former player that he was physically and emotionally abusive.
Gibbons made the announcement to the team Wednesday afternoon, the school said in a statement. His assistant coaches will now assume all coaching duties while Gibbons is on voluntary, paid administrative leave.
The announcement comes a day after former player Ashley Cooper, 20, sued Gibbons and the school. Cooper says that Gibbons grabbed her, shook her and hit her at different times and that the school covered up the behavior.
Cooper's attorney, Elizabeth Eilender, said she's pleased Gibbons isn't running the team anymore because Cooper sued, in part, to force changes at Holy Cross. But she added the school deserves no credit for the move.
"This is damage control by them," Eilender said. "They knew they had a problem. Now the rest of the world knows they have a problem, and they can no longer deny it."
Gibbons did not return an email sent Wednesday seeking comment.
Cooper's suit says Gibbons yanked and pulled her by the shirt collar, shook her by the shoulder and struck her on the back during a game, leaving a red handprint.
It paints Gibbons as so volatile that opposing players would remark, "Your coach is crazy," and the players as so demoralized that alumni basketball games are impossible because players won't return to the Jesuit school in Worcester to participate.
The suit accuses Holy Cross of failing to turn over game tape that could show Gibbons striking Cooper and another player. It says the school has also refused to release results of an investigation into Gibbons' behavior.
Cooper gave up a full scholarship and left the school amid fear of physical pain and retaliation for complaining about Gibbons, according to the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in New York City, where Cooper lives.
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