Update: Rhonda Revelle and the Husker Softball team report to fall camp despite threats of boycott
Update: Nebraska softball head coach Rhonda Revelle and all 19 Husker softball players started fall camp Sunday morning at Bowlin Stadium. This comes after some players threatened to boycott practice following Revelle’s reinstatement, citing mistreatment of players. Through a release from the College Athlete Advocacy Initiative, Nebraska players alleged the long-time coach was emotionally and verbally abusive, leading to a toxic culture.
Student-athlete statement following Sunday’s practice:
“We started with a great conditioning test that everyone passed. We had a fun, energetic, high-paced team practice. We’re closer than we’ve ever been on and off the field.”
Rhonda Revelle was not available for comment.
Tune into Channel 8 Eyewitness News tonight at 5:30 and 10 p.m. for full coverage.
The College Athlete Advocacy Initiative (CAAI), a nonprofit athlete advocacy group, released a statement Friday voicing its support of University of Nebraska-Lincoln softball players and denouncing UNL’s decision to reinstate coach Rhonda Revelle.
Revelle was placed on administrative leave on July 9, and was reinstated by Athletic Director Bill Moos on Sunday following an investigation into player complaints of mistreatment.
“After reviewing the findings, I have concluded that Coach Revelle will continue to lead our softball program,” Moos said in a statement. “Coach Revelle and her staff understand the seriousness of the student-athlete concerns and are committed to providing a complete and positive student-athlete experience on the field, in the classroom and in life.”
The statement by CAAI said current and former players detailed numerous instances of concerning behavior by Revelle and others in the program, including “allegations of persistent verbal and psychological abuse, intimidation, fat-shaming, excessive practice time, and disregard of injuries.”
The statement goes on to say the players revealed psychological and verbal abuse including “bullying, intimidation, derogatory name-calling, intrusion into athletes’ personal lives, and harassing text messages from the coach at all hours of the day.”
Players were forced to rank each other regarding their perceived commitment to the team and bombarded with questions about their personal lives and romantic relationships, the statement said.
The statement goes on to detail other concerns, many pertaining to alleged disregard of injuries or medical complaints, saying multiple athletes were “forced to play through injuries that later required medical treatment, including from outside the University.” Others said they were ridiculed for being hurt, according to the statement.
The statement said “at least one athlete expressed suicidal thoughts in a meeting with athletic administrators,” and that administrators were “made aware that several of the young women were experiencing mental health issues.”
Players said team practices “regularly exceeded NCAA-imposed practice limits,” and that they were “pressured to falsely attest to forms verifying compliance with time limits,” the statement says.
The statement claims players expressed concerns about the treatment to administrators, and were told there would be “consequences” if they talked about it. It states a current player as saying, “We were scared to speak.”
Players discussed a boycott of fall practice, which begins Sept. 1, according to the statement.
The Nebraska Athletic Department released the following statement to Channel 8 Eyewitness News:
“First and foremost the well-being of our student-athletes will always be the top priority at the University of Nebraska. As previously stated, the concerns brought forward by members of our softball program were taken very seriously.”
“We initiated a comprehensive review, and Coach Revelle and her staff understand the seriousness of the student-athlete concerns. As a result of the issues that were raised we have worked with Coach Revelle to address and alleviate those concerns moving forward.”
“The University cannot comment further on a personnel matter.”
College Athlete Advocacy Initiative told Channel 8 Eyewitness News it had “no comment” as to whether legal action may be forthcoming.