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Suit alleges Holy Cross women's basketball coach abusive to players

  |   Oct. 16, 2013 at 10:14 AM
WORCESTER, Mass., Oct. 16 (UPI) -- Longtime Holy Cross women's basketball coach Bill Gibbons has been accused of abusive behavior toward players in a lawsuit filed in New York.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, Ashley Cooper, 20, who spent two seasons as a scholarship player for the Crusaders before transferring to New York University, charged in her lawsuit that Gibbons struck and berated team members repeatedly and sometimes "in front of hundreds of witnesses" during games, ABC News reported.

In court papers filed in Manhattan, Cooper said the college in Worcester, Mass., ignored the abuse and accused the school's athletic director of negligence for refusing to take any action.

Cooper said the abuse she suffered forced her to transfer out of Holy Cross after two years, leaving her unable to play at the collegiate level.

"I don't want this to happen to anyone else ever again," Cooper told ABC News in an exclusive interview. "I want to stop it. I'm doing this for other people. I'm taking a stand for others, for every freshman that walks through the door."

Cooper, a standout from Colts Neck, N.J., said in her lawsuit the coach's "actions constitute the worst type of bullying because not only is defendant Gibbons her coach and supervisor, but also he is someone she is supposed to respect."

Cooper alleged Gibbons "struck another female player on the back" during a March 2013 Patriot League Tournament game. After that incident, the player's father "verbally complained" to the athletic director, but no action was taken, Cooper alleged.

Gibbons, who acted in an "outrageous manner in his yelling, ranting, screaming and hysterics," once struck Cooper so hard his hand print didn't immediately fade, the lawsuit said.

ABC News said Gibbons hung up when contacted for comment. Gibbons has been head coach of the Holy Cross women's basketball team for nearly 30 years and is the winningest coach in the program's history.

After the lawsuit was filed, Holy Cross officials said outside attorneys were being brought in to review the allegations.

In a statement to ABC News, the college said, "The physical, mental and emotional well-being of our students is our highest priority at Holy Cross. We just received the lawsuit and are in the process of reviewing it. Ms. Cooper had brought her concern to the college and we investigated at that time. The lawsuit we received today includes a series of new allegations and we will now bring in outside counsel to review them."

Richard Regan, the Holy Cross athletic director for 15 years until retiring earlier this year, did not responded to ABC News' requests for comment.

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Topics: Bill Gibbons
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