On Friday, Aug. 30, the College Athlete Advocacy Initiative announced its support for Nebraska softball athletes after the reinstatement of head softball coach Rhonda Revelle in a Facebook post.
CAAI is a nonprofit group that supports college athletes through coordinating legal services for college athletes regarding NCAA-related matters and creates advocacy campaigns against inequality or exploitation of athletes. After the announcement of Revelle’s reinstatement, CAAI said the Husker softball team contacted the nonprofit requesting help.
“Unfortunately, athlete abuse and mistreatment are far too common in college sports, including psychological abuse and intimidation,” CAAI Executive Director Tim Nevius said in the statement. “We get calls from parents and athletes about it on a regular basis.”
According to CAAI’s post, Husker softball players broke their alleged university-imposed silence on Friday, voicing stories of mistreatment and harassment by Revelle. The post said current and former athletes made allegations of “persistent verbal and psychological abuse, intimidation, fat-shaming, excessive practice time and disregarding injuries.”
Revelle was placed on administrative leave in July, after the completion of a then-unspecified review. Director of Athletics Bill Moos announced on Sunday, after reviewing athlete complaints, she would be reinstated, according to a Nebraska Athletics statement.
“We initiated a comprehensive review,” Moos said in a statement, “and coach Revelle and her staff understand the seriousness of the student-athlete concerns. As a result of the issues that were raised we have worked with coach Revelle to address and alleviate those concerns moving forward.”
According to CAAI, the softball team requested Moos’s investigation report but was denied access.
Prior to Revelle’s leave, the team expressed concerns in an anonymous survey that was created out of fear of retaliation from the head coach, according to CAAI. The team met with Moos afterward and later met with outside attorneys to detail their complaints.
The nonprofit said athletes reported psychological and verbal abuse that included bullying, intimidation, derogatory name-calling, intrusions into athletes’ personal lives and harassing text messages from the coach at all hours of the day. According to their statement, athletes were even forced to rank each other based on perceived commitment to the team and were questioned about their personal lives and romantic relationships. CAAI also said several parents reported concerns to the university.
“This is a complete failure to support the girls,” said the father of a current athlete to CAAI, “and there has been an utter lack of transparency by the administration. It’s just unacceptable.”
Additional accusations include Revelle forcing athletes to play with injuries that later required medical treatment, she belittled athletes for being injured, and discouraged athletes from seeking medical attention.
CAAI additionally said the team stated they routinely surpassed NCAA-imposed practice limits.
The statement also said athletes were discouraged from seeking legal counsel during Revelle’s investigation and team members were prevented from speaking out.
“They told us there would be consequences if we talked to anyone about it. We were scared to speak,” an unnamed athlete said in CAAI’s statement.
After the announcement of Revelle’s reinstatement, members of the softball team discussed boycotting the team’s first practice on Sunday, Sept. 1, according to CAAI.
“This is bigger than Nebraska, this is bigger than softball,” an unnamed athlete said in the statement. ”This is about doing what’s right and we won’t give up until we are heard.”