clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Cuonzo Martin has an online petition for his return as Cal basketball coach

New, 88 comments

We are moving into the theatre of the bizarre.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After a very successful 2015-16 campaign, uncertainty surrounds California Golden Bears basketball coach Cuonzo Martin. Martin doesn't have a signed contract with Cal, although the athletic department has stated they remain committed to getting a new contract in place.

Martin's role in the Yann Hufnagel sexual misconduct case is being reviewed. With UC President Janet Napolitano promising harsher punishment for sexual harassment cases after controversies surrounding numerous UC employees and professors, Martin is being put in the spotlight. Connor Letourneau with more.

If the campus investigation into Martin yields worrisome findings, he could face disciplinary action. University of California President Janet Napolitano is working to dispel the impression that the university takes a soft approach to sexual-harassment allegations. The Hufnagel incident is the fourth high-profile sexual-harassment case in less than a year that has come to light at Berkeley.

Although athletic director Michael Williams has stated that he is confident the final ruling will be in Martin's favor, there has been no word since then. With Tyson Jolly's recent decommitment, there is uncertainty surrounding the program and whether Martin will be the coach of the Bears going forward.

So Cal fans have taken matters into their own hands. Martin has an online petition going from Golden Bear fans (led by Erik Bruvold) to try and keep him in place as the current coach.

Here is what the petition has to say at change.org. It has attracted 350+ signatures at this point.

Chancellor Dirks and Athletic Director Williams.

The undersigned are Cal alumni, faculty, staff, and fans. We have collectively supported both the university's athletic and academic programs with thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars of donations. Many of us have held season tickets to the Cal's Mens Basketball for decades and it is with regards to that program that this petition is addressed.

Many of us have personally come to know our current head coach. He has conducted himself in ways that exemplify the very best of the university and its proud traditions. While we are severely disappointed with the actions of his assistant who was terminated last week, we have all read the redacted report that was shared publicly and fully support Coach Martin's handling of the situation.

Given the report took eight months to generate, the fact that Coach Martin is now being separately investigated strikes us as both unnecessary and short sighted. The individual who was affected by Coach Hufnagel's behavior was not forthcoming of details when she first reached out and upon learning those details Coach Martin took immediate and proper steps.

Some two years ago when Coach Martin was brought to the university, Chancellor Dirks noted how impressed he was with Coach Martin's commitment to not just balancing academic and athletic achievements but how he saw those endeavors as complementary. The academic efforts of Coach Martin's recruits as well as the team members he inherited are testimony to how that vision has been acted upon. An 18 and 0 home record speaks for itself in respect to the team's excellence on the court.

The near-daily evolution of Title IX rules and administrative guidance has made it very difficult to completely understand the roles and responsibilities of reporting parties, and the myriad of types of complainants and respondents. As you know, Title IX and The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) is first and foremost about protecting students who are subject to a sexually hostile campus environment. So when you have you employees, third parties, vendors and visitors to campus involved, and especially when no students are involved, the duties and obligations are not clear. Back in 2015 when this situation was happening, it was even more muddled since this area of law has changed and evolved even from that time. OCR itself has had to clarify and withdraw many of the public notices they have made. If the enforcing body is not clear about the application of its rules, how can we expect non-subject matter experts who are administrators to be held to some all-knowing, overbearing standard? Please keep in mind that no one is excusing the conduct of the assistant coach or that the complainant's concerns were not valid. We just urge that you do not become reactionary to appease certain constituents, as it would not be just. Sanctioning Coach Martin under these set of facts, precipitating his separation from Cal, would be one of the most unfortunate outcomes we have seen at Cal. Please do not let this happen .

We fear that if Coach Martin's situation is not dealt with immediately, we will lose the services of a tremendous coach and representative of Cal. Student athletes will be negatively impacted as they will have had 3 Head coaches in less than four  years. For many of us, our support for the university's programs will be materially compromised and our confidence and respect for the institution as a whole will be damaged. We urge both of you to bring this matter to a close this week and publicly affirm your support for Coach Cuonzo Martin.