The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets have fired women’s basketball coach MaChelle Joseph after an independent investigation found that she created a “toxic” environment, according to a press release from the university.
“After learning of the concerns of women’s basketball student-athletes about Coach Joseph’s conduct, Georgia Tech retained the services of Littler Mendelson to conduct an investigation of the allegations,” Georgia Tech director of athletics Todd Stansbury said. “The findings outlined in the report have left us no choice but to dismiss Coach Joseph.”
The coach was placed on leave Feb. 27 for the investigation to begin. Littler Mendelson conducted over 40 interviews from various players and coaches. Findings from the investigation were submitted on March 20.
The report stated that every student-athlete reported “concerns regarding alleged emotional or mental mistreatment” by Joseph. The players described the environment around the team as “suffocating,” “unhealthy” and “hostile” and described Joseph’s conduct as “bullying” and “emotionally, mentally and verbally ‘abusive.’”
Lisa Banks, Joseph’s attorney, disputed the report according to the Associated Press. Joseph’s attorney said her client was being punished for complaining about gender equity issues at the Atlantic Coast Conference school.
“That allegation is false and was expressly refuted by officials close to the team and outside experts,” the attorney said. “Coach Joseph is tough but fair.”
Banks added that Joseph has “received countless messages from former and current players, parents, and staff expressing their love, admiration, and respect. These messages reveal the truth and will be her legacy.”
The report stated that the allegations, if true, may be NCAA violations. Georgia Tech has reported this to the NCAA for review. Stansbury informed Joseph in-person of the dismissal, according to the release.
“Student-athletes’ well-being will always be the top priority of our athletics department,” Stansbury said. “I am disappointed and saddened to learn that the well-being of our student-athletes was being compromised.”
Georgia Tech will now begin a nationwide search for its next head coach.
The 49-year-old Joseph was the winningest coach in school history with a record of 311-198, according to AP. She guided her team to seven NCAA Tournament appearances, the last coming in 2014.