NKU women’s basketball players allege emotional abuse by head coach

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. (WLWT)Current and former women’s basketball players at Northern Kentucky University allege they’ve suffered emotional abuse by the head coach.

One senior penned an online article detailing what she calls a dark, hidden secret within the program.

Taryn Taugher said she’s been waiting more than a year to go public with her stories of alleged emotional abuse.

Now that her senior season has come to an end, she no longer fears punishment or retribution.

Other current and former teammates are backing up her claims with stories of their own.

Taugher, Kasey Uetrecht and Reece Mungar love the game of basketball.

They all started playing as kids and it’s what brought them to NKU.

But all claim to have struggled with what they call a “toxic environment” at the hands of head coach Camryn Whitaker.

“What she did was degrading and it got to my heart, if that makes sense, and just calling us names and constantly putting us down,” said Taugher.

Taugher made her concerns public in a story posted to The Odyssey Online.

In it, she lists allegations, recorded over the years, that left a negative mark.

One in particular concerns a friend and teammate with Crohn’s disease.

“When she ran out of practice and coach was like, ‘Everyone on the line,’ and she made Shar’rae know we were gonna run because she went to the bathroom. And I knew, something’s not right. She has a disease and it’s not her fault,” said Taugher.

Taugher said Whitaker is known for one-on-one meetings in her office, where players would sit on what is known as the crying couch.

Uetrecht is no stranger to those meetings.

“The way she talks to you, it made me question who I was,” she said.

The women all say it’s not about coming down on players.

“I actually love coaches that yell at me, get in my face and tell me what to do. But that’s constructive criticism and I’m used to it,” said Taugher.

She said Whitaker was not constructive in her criticism.

“We are at an Oakland game at the university and my parents came and watched the game. I remember going up to them in the stands and they asked me how things were going and I just broke down and started crying,” said Mungar.

All three women also said they alerted university officials, but never saw a change in Whitaker’s behavior.

“We did everything we were supposed to do. We met with the coach, we met with the AD, we met with Title IX and you feel like maybe something is going to come out of it when you take these proper steps, and then you hear nothing,” said Uetrecht.

Uetrecht ultimately left the team.

Mungar is transferring out of the school.

“Your relationship with your team or your mental health: It was that black and white,” said Uetrecht.

The university released this statement:

“The well-being of our student-athletes is of the utmost importance and when concerns are raised about our programs, they are appropriately reviewed, evaluated, and addressed.

The university is aware of complaints surrounding the women’s basketball program. We recognize the courage it takes to share personal stories. We have taken these complaints seriously and they have been thoroughly reviewed separately by the Title IX and Athletics offices, and addressed in accordance with university policy. There are ongoing efforts to improve communications and relationships between the program’s leadership and student-athletes.

We are committed to fostering a safe, healthy and inclusive learning environment for anyone who is a part of our campus community. Our students’ voices will be heard and the Athletics office will continue to monitor and assess our programs, taking appropriate corrective actions as needed.”