The firing comes after Joseph was placed on leave in late February.
After several weeks of unanswered questions and finger pointing, the investigation if not the saga of Georgia Tech women’s basketball has finally reached an end: MaChelle Joseph has been fired.
The two sides released very different versions of what happened.
Joseph, who just completed her 16th season at the helm of the Yellow Jackets, claimed that she was placed on leave without being given a reason by the school.
The school’s version
Now, nearly a month to the date, the school has relieved her of her duties after an investigation of the program by Littler Mendelson P.C. Employment and Labor Law Solutions Worldwide.
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“After learning of the concerns of women’s basketball student-athletes about Coach Joseph’s conduct, Georgia Tech retained the services of Littler Mendelson to conduct an investigation of the allegations,” Georgia Tech athletic director Todd Stansbury said. “The findings outlined in the report have left us no choice but to dismiss Coach Joseph.”
Joseph was placed on leave on Feb. 27 while the investigation took place. As part of the investigation, Littler Mendelson completed 40 interviews. Individuals interviewed included Joseph, the team’s 2018-19 assistant coaches, all 13 members of the 2018-19 team, various administrators and support staff, as well as parents of student-athletes.
A final report on the investigation was submitted by Littler Mendelson on March 20. Among the findings were that every student-athlete reported “concerns regarding alleged emotional or mental mistreatment” by Joseph, and that student-athletes described the environment around the team as “toxic,” “suffocating,” “unhealthy” and “hostile” and described Joseph’s conduct as “bullying” and “emotionally, mentally and verbally ‘abusive.’”
Additionally, several student-athletes reported allegations that, if true, may constitute violations of NCAA rules, Littler Mendelson concluded. Georgia Tech has initiated a review of these allegations with the NCAA.
“Student-athlete well-being will always be the top priority of our athletics department,” Stansbury went on to say. “I am disappointed and saddened to learn that the well-being of our student-athletes was being compromised. The findings of the independent investigation make it clear that the dismissal of Coach Joseph is necessary to restore the well-being of student-athletes as the No. 1 priority within our women’s basketball program.”
Joseph departs the school with a 311-204 record, with seven trips to the NCAA tournament, highlighted by a Sweet Sixteen run in 2011-12. The team has, however, failed to make the tournament since 2013-14.
Georgia Tech will immediately begin a national search for it’s next women’s basketball coach.
Joseph and her legal counsel paint a different picture.
Lisa Banks, Joseph’s attorney, actually released a statement roughly an hour before Georgia Tech made their announcement, and she claims the firing is for a different reason.
“Today Georgia Tech terminated MaChelle Joseph as Head Coach of the Women’s Basketball team. This termination is the culmination of an unlawful campaign of retaliation against her for advocating for gender equity in athletics at Georgia Tech. For years, Georgia Tech has provided sub-standard resources to its women’s basketball program including in facilities, marketing, travel, and funding, while providing significantly more and superior resources to its men’s basketball program.
Coach Joseph has been a vocal advocate for her team over the past several years. Her advocacy and objections to the subpar treatment of the women’s basketball team have been met with fierce resistance and hostility from Athletic Department officials. She has been accused of “attacking” Georgia Tech through her efforts, and top Athletic Department officials vowed to “get rid” of her. Georgia Tech finally accomplished that goal by manufacturing allegations against her and manipulating an investigation to make it appear that she engaged in unacceptable coaching practices. That allegation is false and was expressly refuted by officials close to the team and outside experts. Coach Joseph is tough but fair. She has worked tirelessly over the past 16 years to become the winningest coach in the history of Georgia Tech women’s basketball.”
Questions remain despite school’s decision.
While her time as Georgia Tech’s head women’s basketball coach is over, the story most certainly isn’t. With both sides clearly believing they are in the right, one still has to wonder what is next here.
-Will Joseph sue the school?
-Does the decision cause student-athletes to transfer? Or do they stick around to see who takes over?
-Who is hired as the new head coach?
Plenty more to come on this.
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