Duke is conducting an evaluation of its women’s basketball program, the athletic department confirmed Tuesday.
Swish Appeal reported Tuesday afternoon that the University was in the midst of an internal investigation of head coach Joanne P. McCallie's program for possible mistreatment of players and coaches, citing multiple unnamed sources.
The athletic department released the following statement regarding the investigation:
“The welfare and success of our student-athletes are among Duke’s highest priorities. To that end, we are in the process of conducting an evaluation of the Duke women’s basketball program. This effort is led by a Duke human resources professional outside the Athletics Department. Coach McCallie is aware of the evaluation and eager to assist. We look forward to hearing the insights of those involved in the program and any recommendations that may result from this evaluation.”
The team announced April 1 that sophomore Azurá Stevens—the team's leading scorer and rebounder—would not return next season, and that freshman point guard Angela Salvadores would depart the program to begin a professional basketball career in Europe. Stevens is expected to transfer.
Those two departures are part of a string of players to leave the program in the past several years. Sierra Moore transferred to Penn State after the 2012-13 season, Alexis Jones transferred to Baylor after the 2013-14 season and both Kianna Holland and Sierra Calhoun transferred to Ohio State after just one semester at Duke in the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons, respectively.
Duke finished 20-12 this season and missed the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1994.
The program has also endured turnover on its coaching staff, as many of McCallie’s assistants have left for assistant coaching jobs elsewhere.
Former assistant coach Shannon Perry—who first joined then-head coach Gail Goestenkors’ staff before staying in Durham with McCallie—left to become an assistant coach at UCLA after the 2008-09 season. Former assistant coach Samantha Williams took the job in 2007 before leaving to become an assistant at Louisville after the 2010-11 season.
Assistant coach Trisha Stafford-Odom left to become an assistant at North Carolina after the 2010-11 season, but stayed just two seasons in Chapel Hill before becoming the head coach at Concordia, a school transitioning from NAIA to Division II competition in Irvine, Calif. Stafford-Odom stepped down last month.
Another former assistant, Joy Cheek, left to become an assistant coach at Ohio State after the 2012-13 season. Cheek—who was a member of McCallie’s first Duke team and played under McCallie from 2007-10—was one of the Blue Devils’ two recruiting coordinators and worked with Duke’s perimeter players. The Buckeyes secured both Holland and Calhoun as transfers after Cheek arrived in Columbus.
Assistant coach Candice M. Jackson left Durham to become the head coach at the College of Charleston after the 2013-14 season. Jackson is the only former member of McCallie’s staff to leave Duke directly for a head coaching position.
Assistant coach Al Brown has been on McCallie’s staff throughout her nine-year tenure in Durham. Brown also served as an assistant to McCallie for three years at Michigan State.
The investigation marks the second prominent program to come under scrutiny this month.
Nebraska head coach Connie Yori resigned last week after being investigated for mistreatment of players. Multiple sources told The Omaha World-Herald that Nebraska had conducted an investigation into the program that spanned nearly two months.
Yori—the winningest head coach in Husker history—“vehemently” denied the allegations and said her resignation was the result of “personal reasons,” according to the World-Herald.
This story was updated at 1:15 p.m. Wednesday to reflect that Stafford-Odom had stepped down.
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