clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Updated: A woman has accused Cal Football players and coaches of sexual harassment and negligence

Troubling allegations against our football program and university.

U.S. Campus Security Scrutinized In Wake Of Virginia Tech Tragedy Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Update 2: On Thursday the 21st, Athletic Director Jim Knowlton released the following statement.

Dear Friend of Cal Athletics -

I am writing to you regarding a recent Facebook post that presents a series of serious and disturbing allegations regarding the conduct of individuals associated with our football program. Let me be absolutely clear: we will lend our full moral and operational support to the campus inquiry into these allegations. We will support the imposition of appropriate consequences as required by the outcome of that inquiry. We believe in a culture that fosters dignity and respect. The alleged actions run completely counter to the core values of Cal Athletics and our University.

When I, Coach Wilcox and my leadership team first became aware of these allegations, we immediately, as per policy, referred the matter to the campus Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination (OPHD), which is responsible for investigating allegations of discrimination and harassment, including sexual harassment and sexual violence. We encourage anyone needing confidential support or other campus resources to contact the campus’ PATH to Care Center.

These allegations are surfacing in the midst of a concerted and ongoing effort across our department that began several years ago to educate and engage our staff and student-athletes about preventing and responding to sexual harassment and violence. Through formal training sessions for coaches, staff and student-athletes, we have been clear and consistent about our refusal to tolerate this most egregious form of misconduct. If necessary, we will do more.

I have been in close communication with Coach Wilcox, and I know he shares these values, principles and commitments.

As the person entrusted with the well-being of more than 1,000 student-athletes, coaches and staff, I have no greater responsibility at this moment in time than ensuring we do the right things in the right way. We will be as transparent as possible every step of the way. You have my word on it.

Go Bears,

Jim Knowlton

Director of Athletics

Updated: ESPN has conducted an interview with the accuser and has added the following regarding one of the accused staff members. We have chosen to redact names at this time.

[The accuser] later told ESPN in a phone interview she reached out to Cal athletic director Jim Knowlton, football coach Justin Wilcox and other staff members about her experiences last fall, but did not receive a response. This was partly the reason she went public with her story, she said.

The man who threatened to get [the accuser] fired if she withheld sex from him was a volunteer assistant who is no longer with the program, a source told ESPN. It is unclear what led to his departure from Cal, or when it occurred.

Original: Some breaking news regarding the Cal Football team. Members of the Cal Football team and coaching staff have been accused of sexual harassment. The story broke on the SF Chronicle after the accuser posted a Facebook post detailing the incident and interactions with the team and staff.

Cal Athletics have given the following statement regarding the matter:

“We are aware of the very disturbing public allegations made on social media. As is our policy when such assertions are made, we have immediately referred the matter to the campus Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination, which is responsible for investigating such assertions. These allegations go against the very core of our values.

Cal Athletics is and will always be committed to fostering a culture where everyone feels safe, welcome and respected. All of those associated with the department are expected to maintain ethical standards at all times. We encourage anyone who is feeling distressed or troubled to contact the PATH to Care Center for confidential support, and other campus resources.

Athletics does not have its own specific conduct process nor does it investigate allegations or cases on its own, but follows the University’s policy and works in concert with campus professionals who are responsible for those areas.

While we can discuss our process for handling these matters, we generally cannot address any specific case. Allegations of sexual violence and sexual harassment by campus employees are confidential unless officials determine policy is violated, and disciplinary action has been decided. Such allegations against students remain private regardless of the outcome, under UC policy and federal law regarding student records.

Campus prevention and response efforts have increased in recent years. All university staff and all students are required to complete sexual harassment and sexual violence prevention training. In addition the athletic department sponsors supplementary formal training for coaches, staff and student-athletes in sexual violence awareness and prevention, bystander intervention, and campus reporting procedures.”

Her statement is posted below in its entirety. We have chosen to redact the name of the student-athlete whom she accused by name. CGB reached out to the accuser and received her consent to publish the Facebook post.

“I will get you fired if you do not have sex with me” - member of the Cal Football Coaching Staff. Let it be known that this was said on the field, in the red zone, during a practice.

I think there is a significant portion of the population that looks at football players as misogynists, and walking examples of the toxic masculinity epidemic in our society. But what comes as a surprise is that I am not here to talk about players, I want to talk about the coaches. Highly paid, famous, revered when their team wins a national championship. I am an athlete, and I have been my whole life, so when I got the opportunity to work for the UC Berkeley team, I was excited beyond belief. Night games under the lights, adrenaline rushes and team spirit. forward to March 2019, and I am medically withdrawn from school, seeking intensive therapy and psychiatry for the post traumatic stress syndrome and anxiety that happened from the time I spent working for the Cal Football team.

I can already hear people saying “its your fault”, “you brought it upon yourself”. Why? Because I am a tall, attractive blonde girl who sticks out in a sea of sweaty, hyper masculine men on a football field. My first day at work I was excited, I love being in an athletic atmosphere, and I had always been a huge Cal fan. 6:30 AM rolls up, and I am already on the field as the players start to come out. Maybe because I am a new face in the sports medicine squad, but maybe for other reasons, I was being stared at up and down, by coaches and payers alike. Hours after practice my Instagram begins to blow up, DM’s with creepy messages, asking me to come over, inviting me to parties. I’m in college this is normal, or what has been normalized, and I expected to get this from the players.

What I did not expect was the ruthless, endless, and persistent sex harassment from the coaches. Practices are cold in the morning, so I was wearing black leggings. I turn around and three coaches are in a huddle staring at my butt. I did not know what to do, I was so embarrassed. I am a financial aid student, I am here to make money not to be some object to look at. To prove my worth, and that I was not just some object, I was coming in early and leaving late, and never missed a shift.

Here starts the issues that truly kept me up at night and made me dread going to practice. I would hold water and gatorade bottles at practice, and one coach would only come up to me, out of all the other employees, no matter what side of the field I was on. He would stare at me, wink, and ask me to guess what he wanted. He would grab my arm and look at me with knowing eyes, and I would get so scared I would toss a bottle at him and runaway.

These harassments continued into the summer, when a new coach arrived. He somehow knew my name the next day at practice, and would corner me in the tunnel entrance to field, asking me deeply personal questions, like if I had a boyfriend and what my “type” is. He would not leave me alone at practice, following me around to each drill, making remarks on how I looked that day. To no surprise, he found me on Instagram, and starting messaging me, for which then I blocked him. One day after practice, I realized he was following me home, as he was supposed to be going in the opposite direction, but was keeping a close pace behind me before he caught up to me outside my front door. He asked me what I was doing that weekend, and that we should go to the pool, because “I would look amazing in a bikini”. This coach is still employed by Cal Football, just to make that clear.

Another day, another coach found my Instagram, and liked all the pictures where I was wearing a bathing suit, even from years past. A player had given him my name, snapchat, and basically all forms of contact. When I did not reply to his messages, he would try to humiliate me in front of the players, yelling at me to do a job I was already doing. He would get especially upset when a player would talk to me, like he had formed some sort of territory over me.

This coach was so persistent in his text messages, and one night invited me over to the stadium offices at midnight, because I had noted that I was struggling with an economics class he had taken at another college. I was under the influence, and not legally in a state of mind to be consenting to sex. He snuck me into his office, I put my backpack and binder down, and he immediately grabbed for my waist. I was terrified, my mind was fuzzy, and I do not remember much from that night. He kept kissing me, pushing me against the wall, and I left.

The next day, he cornered me at practice and said “if you do not have sex with me,I will get you fired”. I am a broke college student, I couldn’t lose this job, and I was scared of him. Every night before a Cal home game, the team stays in the Claremont, luxury hotel nearby. I was staying there with my mom that night, as she was visiting me for the weekend. I get a text from the coach. “Meet me in my room”. I couldn’t let my mom down, if I got fired she wouldn’t be able to support me, so I said I was leaving for the night. When I got to his room, I was scared, so I just laid on the bed and tried to make small talk. He started taking his clothes off. I started crying uncontrollably. He yelled at me to get out of him room, and that he could fuck any girl he wanted. From that point on I was still working for the team.

As for the players, they would look at me in practice and make lewd remarks, but I had been working so hard for my promotion from hydrotech to sports medicine intern, so I let myself feel like a piece of meat at practice, and then go home and try to forget about it until the next day. If I responded please leave me alone to a DM, I was answered back with “Im going to treat you like the hoe that you are”. This was a message sent to me by [redacted], known among the sports medicine interns as a sexual harasser. He still starts. After an intense application process, I was interviewed for the promotion, by which I had a great interview and had the schedule they were looking for, and the desire to go to physical therapy school. In the end, I did not receive the position because they did not want me in the training room taking focus away from the players. Those that were hired were either men or unqualified applicants, but they all had in common is that they wouldn’t be “distracting the players”.

The other girls working for the team were allowed to wear jean shorts and tank tops, and I could not. Justin Wilcox, head coach made it a special rule that only I would have to wear shoulder covering shirts, clearly singling me out and humiliating me. When I wore shorts, they were staring at my legs, when I wore leggings they were staring at my butt. I have never felt more objectified in my life, and I still have nightmares, often it is a coach doing sexual things to me without my consent or following me home. I am not ok, I had to leave Berkeley. I have emailed Justin Wilcox, Jim Knowlton, our Athletic director, and called and emailed many other coaches and athletic administrators. No response. Why not? Because thats the business.

One night, I was invited over to a football house, where I was given vast amounts of tequila, to which I later realized, no one else was drinking that much. That night is also a little fuzzy, but i clearly remember the players talking to another saying “looks like we are gonna get lucky tonight”. Thankfully my friends rescued me from the house, calling me an Uber. I slipped out the back door unnoticed. I am still learning to build back my confidence, but have lost months worth of salary from having to quit, plus the therapists and psychiatrists are costing up to $600 an hour. I am now behind a semester in college, so will have to graduate late.

But your mental and physical health do not matter when a revenue sport is involved. Shoutout to Jim Knowlton, Justin Wilcox, the Cal Athletics Administrative office for teaching me this lesson, and I hope to everyone ignoring my phone calls and emails, that you will see that I do not back down. Females to not back down. This is our time to change the game.

Cal Football, Your Time is Up.

Take Responsibility.

Due to the sensitive and serious nature of the allegations, please exercise discretion with comments. While we welcome a range of opinions, any ad hominem comments attacking any of the parties involved will be removed and commenters will be warned and banned.