Syracuse women's basketball coach Quentin Hillsman under investigation

6/29/2021 3:27:35 PM EST

Syracuse launched an external investigation Tuesday into women's basketball coach Quentin Hillsman in the wake of a report from The Athletic that said he engaged in "inappropriate behavior" that included "unwanted physical contact, threats and bullying."

Since April, 11 Syracuse players announced they will transfer, including leading scorer Kiara Lewis and Kamilla Cardoso, the Atlantic Coast Conference freshman of the year.

"The allegations reported in The Athletic today are troubling. Based on the nature of these allegations, Syracuse University is engaging an outside firm to conduct an independent review and will take appropriate action based on its outcome," Sarah Scalese, senior associate vice president for communications, said in a statement released to The Post Standard of Syracuse.

"While no formal complaints have been made to date from members of the women's basketball program, we take these allegations very seriously. We ask any individual who has knowledge of or has experienced this kind of conduct to come forward. Syracuse University remains focused on the well-being and success of our student-athletes."

Hillsman, 50, has coached the Orange since 2006. His record is 319-169, and he is the winningest coach in program history.

Since 2018, 20 women have left the Orange team. Nine women who played for Hillsman were among those to speak to The Athletic, and three former players said they had thoughts of suicide and a fourth thoughts of self-harm because of their time with the program.

Allegations against Hillsman included his use of vulgar language, physical threats, denying the players water in practice and kissing some on the forehead.

"The way he threatened us, like we all knew he would never physically harm us, but he'd always be talking about beating our asses," one former player told The Athletic. "Like, ‘I'll f-- you guys up. I'll f-- you up. It's gonna be your ass if you f-- this up.'"

During halftime of a game in the 2019-20 season, Hillsman allegedly flipped a table after saying individually to each player, "I don't give a f-- about you."

During Hillsman's tenure, the Orange have appeared in 13 postseason tournaments out of the 14 seasons in which they were held. That includes nine trips to the NCAA Tournament, plus 18 all-conference selections, five All-Americans and four WNBA draft picks. Syracuse lost the final of the 2016 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament to UConn, 82-51.

Two weeks ago, Syracuse athletic director John Wildhack said Hillsman had his support and that the 11 transfers were "a sign of the times."

--Field Level Media

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