The four players who quit the Wichita State women’s basketball team after the season have met with a university official who reports to president John Bardo to discuss their issues with coach Jody Adams.
Faculty athletic representative Julie Scherz is leading the inquiry and is charged to talk to current and past players, coaches and administrators, said Lou Heldman, WSU vice president of strategic communications. Michaela Dapprich, Moriah Dapprich, Alie Decker and Kayla White met with Scherz recently after leaving the team.
“Dr. Bardo took this seriously from the first report of it,” Heldman said. “He is very conscious of the standards of what universities owe to student-athletes, and really, to all students. He asked Dr. Scherz to look into this.”
Scherz and Bardo have had at least one conversation and plan another soon, Heldman said. Assistant athletic director for media relations Larry Rankin directed media inquiries to Heldman.
The players, according to a source with knowledge of the conversations and communications with Scherz and athletic department officials, described an atmosphere of anger, isolation and personal insults that caused the players to quit. The issues came to a head recently during offseason training when players ran more than an hour of “suicide” drills as punishment, several sources said.
“They love Wichita State,” one source said. “They don’t want to leave. But they can’t take it anymore.”
The sources also described frustration with the WSU athletic administration, including athletic director Eric Sexton, for not treating their complaints seriously. It is a concern repeated by people connected to players who quit, or were asked to leave, the team in previous seasons. Their hope, sources connected to previous and past players say, is that speaking to Scherz will bypass obstacles in the athletic department.
“(Bardo’s) charge to (Scherz) is to go wherever the path leads and report back to him,” Heldman said. “The key thing is the experience of Wichita State students. That’s (Bardo’s) major concern. She is willing to listen and she wants to listen, Dr. Bardo wants her to listen, to whoever has something to share with her.”
On Tuesday, Sexton was named university vice president for student affairs and executive athletic director, a job change that makes him in charge of the student experience on campus.
This is not the first time players organized to voice their objections to their treatment by Adams and the coaching staff.
After the 2008-09 season, Adams’ first at WSU, four players quit. Five players quit before or during the season. All were recruited by the previous coaching staff. Those who spoke on the record described constant daily verbal abuse, a team segregated by race, and practices that exceeded the NCAA weekly limit.
“I didn’t feel this was the place for me,” former player Jadhon Kerr said then. “I felt like I was mistreated by Jody on a daily basis. I decided to stay (in 2008-09) for my teammates.”
Adams and Sexton strongly denied the accusations at the time and described the problems as ones common during a coaching change.
“I was keeping an eye on it,” Sexton said then. “Many times in coaching transitions these kinds of things occur, as a natural course of action.”
In 2012, Sexton reprimanded Adams and the coaching staff after they made the players do pushups on the court during halftime of a game.
The departures of Michaela Dapprich and Decker leave WSU without a returning starter for next season.
Michaela Dapprich, a junior guard from Branson, Mo., averaged 12.5 points and 5.9 rebounds and earned honorable mention All-Missouri Valley Conference honors. Decker, a sophomore forward from Edmond, Okla., averaged 8.8 points and 3.6 rebounds. Moriah Dapprich, Michaela’s sister, played in 25 games and averaged 1.6 points. White, from San Antonio, played in 21 games, starting five, and averaged 0.7 points.