Sheryl Swoopes Under Fire, Investigation After Team Revolts

Loyola University head coach Sheryl Swoopes has come under fire and had an internal investigation launched into her actions following a mass exodus of the team’s players over the last two years. The university announced it was looking into the matter on Friday night. The move comes in the wake of revelations that 10 of the 12 returning Loyola women’s basketball players have asked to transfer or announced they were leaving to get away from Swoopes.

The Chicago Tribune reports the massive departures this year are just the second wave. Sheryl Swoopes saw five players transfer to other schools after the 2014-15 season. Swoopes has made a name for herself as one of the best women’s basketball players of all time, having recently been admitted into the Naismith hall of fame. Her coaching career hasn’t been nearly as distinguished, however.

Sheryl Swoopes took over the Loyola program in 2013, and she started losing players almost immediately. The large number of members of the team who want out from under the leadership of Sheryl Swoopes this year has made the university take a long and detailed look at what is going on with the Lady Ramblers.

“Any time there are allegations of student-athlete mistreatment, it is more than concerning. The welfare of our student-athletes is paramount. Thus, the Loyola University Chicago Department of Intercollegiate Athletics has asked for an independent and comprehensive University investigation into the women’s basketball program,” Deputy Director of Athletics Jermaine Truax said in the Friday statement.

The report went on to say that Swoopes is both aware of the investigation and is planning on fully cooperating with it. The school’s student newspaper, The Phoenix, reports some sources have talked to the publication and said there are concerns with the way Sheryl Swoopes is handling players. Among those complaints appears to be some who feel as though the coach is interfering in their personal lives.

Some around Sheryl Swoopes have wondered aloud whether this is just a generational thing. Sheryl Swoopes has won a number of gold medals in the Olympics while also winning many awards when she was playing college and professional basketball. People around Sheryl Swoopes wonder if she might be demanding too much from a team that simply isn’t used to living and breathing basketball the way the hall of fame player has.

Swoopes isn’t the only women’s basketball coach who has come under fire for her alleged treatment of her team in recent weeks. The University of Nebraska has struggled in most of the school’s major sports over the last few years but has managed to forge a consistently good women’s basketball program. The woman at the center of that program, Connie Yori, was seen as having a job for life at the program just a few months ago. In early April, Yori resigned rather abruptly after Nebraska announced it was launching its own investigation into assertions of poor treatment of her players.

The Omaha World-Herald reported Yori had vehemently denied any wrongdoing yet still stepped down apparently in order to avoid having to go through the process of the investigation. Yori had been at the University of Nebraska far longer than Swoopes has been at Loyola. That doesn’t mean the hall of famer is definitely in real trouble, but the team being decimated by departures seems like a very bad sign. Even if the investigation turns up nothing untoward, it would appear difficult for Loyola to retain a coach who can’t keep enough players to put on the court. Sheryl Swoopes appears to be in a spot of trouble no matter what Loyola turns up.

[Photo by Eric Kayne/Getty Images]

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