The Highlanders head coach is under investigation regarding alleged verbal and mental abuse of players.
The head coach of the UC Riverside women’s basketball team, John Margaritis, was placed on leave without pay this week. There is an ongoing investigation regarding former player allegations of verbal and emotional abuse at the hands of Margaritis.
This is the second investigation regarding Margaritis within the past few months. Earlier in the summer, he was given a 20-day suspension, which included games and practices, and yet to be served as the season has not yet begun. The reason given by the university for the suspension was a “violation of university policy.”
Following the initial investigation, assistant coach Giuliana Mendiola was let go from the team. Her contract was up and the university decided not to renew it.
Mendiola had spent the past seven seasons as an assistant coach, and no clear reason was given for her dismissal. She received a lot of support from alumni and former players and a petition was started on Change.org to support her. Former players have praised Mendiola for being very supportive of current players amid the alleged abuse.
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Currently, Seyram Bell, the only assistant coach still on staff, had been named the acting head coach pending the results of the investigation. Several former players have come out over the summer and spoken up about the alleged abuse suffered at the hands of Margaritis, as well as their support for Mendiola.
The initial investigation was launched after current players went to UC Riverside’s athletic director, Tamica Smith Jones, and other senior members of the administration, regarding their concerns.
Margaritis has been the head coach at UC Riverside for 15 years, and during that time, he’s led the team to three NCAA tournament appearances, and several Big West tournament appearances. This past season, the team finished 17-16 and lost to Utah State in the first-round of the Women’s Basketball Invitational.
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