Outside Investigation Finds Women's Basketball Allegations Unsupported

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CHAMPAIGN – An outside investigation into the Illinois women's basketball program has determined that allegations of racism against the coaching staff are unsupported.

According to the university, the investigation, conducted by the law firm of Pugh, Jones & Johnson, included a review of more than 18,000 documents, 33 interviews, the statements of eight former players, and review of game and practice video footage.

In a university press release Chancellor Phyllis Wise said she supports the investigation's findings based on the information that was available.

"We find any allegations troubling, because they don't reflect our values," Wise said. "Student-athletes are part of our Illinois family, and we want to ensure that their experiences are fulfilling, and that they are able to work toward an Illinois degree and prepare for lives of leadership and impact."

"Going forward, we must ensure that our coaches and staff members have a clearer understanding of our core values and expectations, and that our student-athletes never ever feel they have nowhere to go when they have concerns," she said.

The university launched an outside investigation after some former players and their parents made allegations of racism and player abuse. Since then, some of the families have filed a lawsuit against the university.

The university press release states the following: Investigators reported that allegations of players being segregated by race during practice and at hotels during road trips were unfounded. The review also found that extra practice sessions included both African-Americans and Caucasians and were not punitive, but were held to ensure that student-athletes who played less than 20 minutes in the previous game remained in shape and ready to play. Records of hotel room assignments show that the majority of room assignments featured mixed-race pairings.

"Our number one priority is the well-being and health of our students," Athletic Director Mike Thomas said in a university press release. "We are implementing positive changes across our athletic department that we believe will become part of the best practices for other schools in the country in the coming years."

"We can never have too many ways to help students connect with support," Thomas said.

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