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Cal MBB assistant coach Yann Hufnagel fired for alleged sexual harassment


Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

In the "this is bad news" category, Connor Letourneau of the Chronicle reported this morning that assistant coach Yann Hufnagel has been fired following an investigation into claims of sexual harassment.

Cal Athletics put out out a statement confirming the high level details, though their language is slightly different, mentioning that Cuonzo Martin has "initiated termination proceedings".

California's head men's basketball coach, Cuonzo Martin, has initiated termination proceedings under University of California policy against assistant coach, Yann Hufnagel, Cal's Intercollegiate Athletics Department announced today. Effective immediately, Hufnagel has been relieved of his duties pending the outcome of the termination process and will not be traveling with the team during its NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament run. The actions follow a finding, issued today by UC Berkeley's Office of the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination (OPHD) that Hufnagel violated the University's sexual harassment policy.

Ryan Gorcey at Scout has more details - a source close to the program said the investigation began last summer and concluded on Monday. Gorcey also mentioned that the complainant is a female reporter.

A source has revealed the contents of an internal email from Cal, stating some of the details surrounding the incident in question.

The source said that the investigation "began last summer and concluded today."

Specifically, the investigation began last August, 2015, and concluded on Monday. The complainant is confidential, the source said, and the complaint detailed a series of communications and behaviors over a period from November 2014 to May 2015, as part of professional communications related to the complainant's work. Hufnagel will be paid, pending final termination.

"It caught people on the staff completely off-guard," said the source, who requested anonymity.

Per Connor Letourneau, Cuonzo commented a bit on this matter on his Monday morning conference call.

"You’re talking about a guy that’s a part of your staff, a family member," Martin said in a teleconference with reporters late Monday morning. "You continue to push forward. There are always bumps in the road. … It’s not an easy thing, but we’ll find our way."

Hufnagel posted one tweet on the matter, calling the claim "fruitless."

[Update 12:55PM] In addition, it looks like Hufnagel talked to ESPN, and Jeff Faraudo captured a few quotes (h/t Kodiak)

I'm not going to speculate on what could have happened or what the impact will be on the team beyond what has been reported. However, this decision does come at a time where there have been other allegations of sexual harassment on Cal's campus, most notably against Dean Sujit Choudry of the Law School (who has resigned as Dean but remains a faculty member), as well as against Graham Fleming, the Vice Chancellor for Research (who was shifted to another job, went on sabbatical, and was very recently ordered to be fired by Janet Napolitano).

[Update 5:25PM] Reports about this hindering the Martin contract are inaccurate according to Cal:

The recent connection that has been drawn between the ongoing contract discussions with UC Berkeley’s head men's basketball coach and the current situation regarding the notice of intent to terminate Assistant Coach Hufnagel is inaccurate. Coach Martin is the Cal men’s basketball coach. We look forward to finalizing his contract.

[Update 2:06PM 3/15/16] The report can be found on the KQED website here.

Cal MBB takes on Hawaii in Spokane in the Round of 64 in the NCAA tournament at 11AM on Friday.

Links for further reading:

(1) The Chronicle report

(2) Gorcey's update

(3) ESPN article (with Cal Athletics statement)