U of I asst. women’s hoops coach quits amid player abuse complaints

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Mike Divilbiss, seen in 2007 when he was head coach at Idaho, has left the University of Illinois women’s basketball team amid accusations of player abuse. | AP file

CHAMPAIGN — As the University of Illinois continues to deal with accusations that members of its Illinois football staff mistreated a player, the school said Monday it has also looked into concerns raised by parents of women’s basketball players that preceded the departure of an assistant coach.

Spokeswoman Robin Kaler said Monday that associate head coach Mike Divilbiss and the university “had agreed to part ways.”

The university looked into allegations in April made by three players’ parents in letters to school officials and found no violations of laws, NCAA rules or university policies, Kaler said. Those allegations included unspecified concerns about one player’s medical treatment.

“The inquiry process included the review of numerous documents, information related to current and past seasons, and interviews of more than 20 individuals currently or formerly affiliated with the Women’s Basketball program,” she said in a statement. “As reported, one player has raised concerns related to medical treatment she received. The University continues to evaluate these concerns.”

Copies of letters from the parents of the three players — Jacqui Grant, Taylor Gleason and Taylor Tuck — were obtained by The Associated Press. The letters detail a number of allegations, among them that Grant was being pressured to play through mononucleosis her freshman year.

“It was later determined at Northwestern University Medical Center in Chicago that she was actually playing with an enlarged spleen,” Grant’s mother and stepfather, Christina and Thomas Grusecki, wrote.

Gleason’s parents, Peter and Shawn Gleason, wrote that their daughter was “forced to play” with a broken toe in a January game.

Grant, who was a starter in her two seasons at Illinois, has been released from scholarships to transfer, as has Gleason, the school has confirmed. Tuck graduated. They are three of the four players who have left the program since March, along with another transfer, Amarah Coleman.

They could not be reached for comment and their families either declined to speak on the record or did not return calls from The Associated Press.

Neither Kaler, women’s basketball coach Matt Bollant, Divilbiss nor athletic director Mike Thomas responded to calls seeking interviews.

Thomas hired Bollant after firing previous coach Jolette Law in 2012. Bollant brought Divilbiss with him from the University of Milwaukee-Green Bay, where Bollant had been head women’s coach.

Separately Monday, Bollant announced in a news release that he had promoted assistant coach and recruiting coordinator LaKale Malone to fill Divilbiss’ position. The release did not explain why Divilbiss left.

Last week, former Illinois football player Simon Cvijanovic said coach Tim Beckman and his staff pressured him to play hurt and misled him about an injury.

The university hired a Chicago law firm to investigate those allegations and other, similar charges raised by another former player, Nick North.

DAVID MERCER, Associated Press

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