Report: Ex-Rutgers Softball Players Allege Abuse By Coaches
Several former student-athletes from the Rutgers University softball team have claimed that they endured both physical and emotional abuse because of their coaching staff, according to an investigative report published by NJ.com on Wednesday.
The report, which states that the abuse came from the program's head coach Kristen Butler and her volunteer-coach husband Marcus Smith, includes detailed incidents that involved claims of both physical and emotional abuse of players on a number of occasions. Seven different former softball student-athletes made allegations in the report.
"I am an athlete that knows how to be tough and knows being a championship team takes grit and sacrifice," a player stated in a legal notice, according to the report. "That being said, the things we endured this season made us miserable. There is a fine line between making us stronger mentally and physically and pushing us to breaking points."
NJ.com also noted that 10 players left the Rutgers softball program within one year of Butler's hiring in June of 2018. Just three starting position players remain on the 2019-2020 roster.
According to the report, both Butler and Smith, as well as officials within the Rutgers athletic department, have denied any wrongdoing on behalf of the university's softball coaching staff. The report adds that Rutgers athletic director Patrick Hobbs called the news organization "f--king scum" when he was contacted by a reporter from NJ.com who was assigned to the story.
Hobbs said in a statement: "I do not tolerate abusive behavior and Rutgers University does not tolerate abusive behavior. Rutgers University is a national leader in how such claims are addressed."
Last spring, the Rutgers softball team finished in sixth place in the Big Ten standings and posted an overall record of 29-26 in Butler's first season at the helm of the program. It marked the first winning campaign for the program since 2015.
"Looking at our stats and photos from all our success this season, you would think we loved every second of it," a player wrote in a legal notice, according to NJ.com's report. "What you don't see is the anxiety attacks, stress from being behind in school and frustration of being controlled constantly."
Read the full NJ.com report here.