Kelly Greenberg, Boston University Basketball Coach, Accused of Bullying Players

Tyler ConwayFeatured ColumnistMarch 9, 2014

AP Images

Updates from Wednesday, April 23

According to's Kate Fagan, Greenberg has been let go by Boston University:

Boston University has parted ways with women's basketball coach Kelly Greenberg, according to multiple sources.

On March 8, four BU players -- all members of the 2013-14 team -- accused Greenberg of bullying. The university subsequently formed a panel to investigate the accusations against the 46-year-old coach.

Greenberg, who just finished her 10th season at the school, could not immediately be reached for comment. 

Original Text

Boston University women's basketball coach Kelly Greenberg again finds her abrasive coaching style the center of an investigation after four players accused her of bullying tactics before each abruptly quit the team this season.

The Boston Globe's Bob Hohler had the report Saturday of the former BU players. They accuse Greenberg of vitriolic and abusive behavior reminiscent of Mike Rice, the former Rutgers men's basketball coach who was fired last season because of his tactics.

One player, Dionna Joynes, said she was driven nearly suicidal because of harsh words from her coach. Another, Dana Theobald, said Greenberg "demolished" her.

“I was so grateful to go to such a prestigious and expensive school and be given a full scholarship to play there,’’ Theobald said. “I arrived feeling very confident and motivated. Then I felt bullied, threatened, and emotionally abused by the coach. By the time I left, she had demolished me as a person.’’

The other two women named in the report, Melissa Gallo and Katie Poppe, were more reserved in the story but no less staunch. Greenberg systematically destroyed their love of basketball and left them emotionally distraught, the report insinuates.

Bob Child/Associated Press

Two of the women have already left Boston University and their scholarships altogether. Another remains in school, with her scholarship status yet to be determined by the university. That decision could have a crippling effect on her personal finances, as the loss of scholarship would cost her roughly $60,000 for each additional year of attendance.

Boston University is yet to comment on Greenberg's status. The 46-year-old coach has been at the university for a decade, and she is in the final year of a contract extension signed after the 2008-09 season. University officials declined Hohler's request for comment, as did Greenberg, and a statement released indicated an investigation is ongoing.

"We have been made aware of issues and concerns about Coach Greenberg, and we’re taking a very serious look at them from both inside and outside of athletics," BU spokesman Colin Riley said.

If these allegations prove true, it would be very difficult for Greenberg to keep her job.

Joynes describes a moment where Greenberg allegedly called her "selfish" for being out of the lineup with a concussion. While concussion safety is typically something reserved for football discussions, the increased awareness about their long-term effect makes Greenberg look worse than had this incident happened a few years back.

Joynes was eventually taken to the hospital in an ambulance after feeling suicidal.

"It was very scary," Joynes said. "I was blaming everything on myself because of the way I had been treated. I knew deep inside that it wasn't me, but I was too afraid to say it was [Greenberg] because she didn't make me feel supported."

Boston University's Melissa Gallo (left)
Boston University's Melissa Gallo (left)Fred Beckham/Associated Press

As Hohler states, "Personality clashes between coaches and players are not uncommon." However, these allegations—or at least something similar—are nothing new for Greenberg.

In 2008, Jacy Schulz and Brianne Ozimok left the team after describing similarly abusive behavior from their coach. After an internal investigation at the time, Boston University retained Greenberg and said the accusations "helped Coach Greenberg appreciate that her style has been difficult, and that she has also made substantive mistakes that she deeply regrets."

Even as the longstanding evidence against Greenberg mounts, she still has her supporters.

Hohler reported nearly 30 demonstrators were on campus Saturday to rally around their coach and the positive impact she's had on their lives. Many of those coming out publicly to support Greenberg were on the same team the four aforementioned players left.

"I think they didn't realize how hard it was going to be and couldn't handle it," said Mo Moran, a captain of the 2012-13 team. "The fact that four girls are trying to bring down something the coach has worked so hard for is disgusting to me."

Boston University's Katie Poppe
Boston University's Katie PoppeDavid Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The departures left BU with just nine scholarship players for much of the season. The Terriers finished 13-20, Greenberg's worst record as a coach, and lost to Army in the Patriot League quarterfinals last week.

With her contract quickly running out, it was already clear Greenberg was losing some level of support within the athletic department. Schools typically don't like coaches to even enter a lame-duck period, as the uncertainty can hamper recruiting and put undue pressure on the staff for an instant turnaround.

If the university review again finds validity in these allegations, though, it will just be all the more reason to start anew.