Bullying has turned into a very sensitive subject in recent years and here at the University of Rhode Island, it just became more sensitive than ever.
Last week, NBC 10 released a reportÂ aboutÂ URI softball head coach Erin LaytonÂ allegingÂ sheÂ took part in the bullying of former and currentÂ players and staff which led someÂ toÂ seek therapy, medication and even forfeitÂ more than $10,000 in scholarships.
While everybody isÂ innocent until proven guilty,Â many people,Â including current players who remained anonymous, were willing to come out to talk about whatÂ allegedlyÂ goes on in the locker room.
AllegationsÂ state Layton used a number of different tactics to scare her playersÂ includingÂ threats, mind gamesÂ and demeaning language.Â Players also said that Layton would often try and pit players against each other by concocting stories that were untrue. They also said that she treated injured players very poorly and resorted to wild tirades to intimidate her team.
Former player Jasmine Clarke said she and teammates were hazed right before their first road trip as college athletes when Layton called them and began screamingÂ saying they were late to the team bus when they knew they had not been. Clarke said the screaming continued as they got to the bus and it did notÂ stop until they were brought to tears. Only then did Layton admit that it was a joke.
Clarke also said the effects were more severe than expected with students suffering from ulcers, frequent headaches, insomniaÂ and self-harm from all of the stress they were experiencingÂ being on the team.Â She also said that a lot of players started doing poorly in school as well.
Details of the situation are still murky and not much has been done yet as the news only became public about aÂ week ago. According to NBC 10, Athletic Director Thorr Bjorn didn’t address any allegations specifically but did say concerns were brought to him about Layton’s use of language.
Now that this story has been released, it will have to be addressed in the open rather than being handled internally. Players and parents say they contacted administrators frequently but their claims were either handled without care or completely ignored.Â Regardless of the outcome, Bjorn will have a very tough task ahead of him finding a solution.
Families of two active players even provided NBC 10 with emails, meeting outlines and other forms of evidence which show complaints were consistent from many people and also that school officials were aware of their concerns.
Bjorn said that a comprehensive investigation was performed in the spring of 2013 and that the matter was taken very seriously. After a three-week leaveÂ for Layton, the university came to the conclusion thatÂ sheÂ hadn’t violated school policy.
Coach Layton respectfully declinedÂ the Good 5-cent Cigar’s request for anÂ interview with her saying that both she and her team were moving forward and focusing on the current season. As of today, the Rams have a six-game losing streak to go along with an 11-29 record and a 4-8 record in conference play.
The full reportÂ on the softball teamÂ can be found on TurnTo10.com.