CPH should protect its students

On March 25, five Cal Poly Humboldt basketball players came forward in the Times Standard detailing verbal abuse by their head coach, Tae Norwood. It was heartbreaking to read.

On March 29, the school sent out a campus-wide blast about the incident saying that, among other things, the university will be hiring an outside legal team to investigate these claims. It’s sad that these players’ voices only matter to the school when their reputation is on the line. The Times Standard reports that the former athletic director was made aware of the abuse in late January. This should’ve been investigated as soon as admin were notified.

The players testify that Norwood would regularly exceed the NCAA limit of 20 hours a week for practice, threaten to kick them off the team for having “mental breakdowns” and ridicule players in front of the whole team. Two of the players interviewed had thoughts of suicide over the continued verbal abuse.

In the second article about the abuse, detailed further counts of misconduct by Norwood and the players attempts to be heard by admin.

The administration at this school needs a reality check. They cannot keep allowing students to be abused without taking any action. The same athletic director and the same president have met similar situations on our campus with a callous level of silence. (See USA Today’s John Lee and NCJ “Jadence Clifton Comes Forward”)

If the school would act when students complain of abuse, then there would be no need for a bombshell article to deliver the painful truth: that our Campus administration does not care.

I originally came to CPH to run cross country but left the sport because being a freshman in 2020 was affecting my mental health negatively. I felt lost and depressed during that time. I can’t imagine going through that time with an abusive coach.

As a former student athlete, your coach is everything. Coaches are an athlete’s main contact at the school. They are mentors and advisors to their players. When coaches abuse their athletes, it reflects on the entire program.

There is a clear power dynamic between players and coaches. When coaches, professors and presidents demonstrate that they are incapable of using this power to better our campus, then they need to be shown the door promptly. Players endured Norwood’s abuse because standing up to it could mean losing what they’ve worked their whole life to achieve.

From past incidents and personal knowledge, it seems that Title IX is a system that does not deliver. It seems easier just to leave the college and say nothing than to go through months of process to have the same result. As a student this makes me feel dispensable. It’s much easier for me to leave when wronged by staff than for the systems in place to hold them accountable.

If someone reading this is in a position to act directly then I would advise to fire abusive staff. Fuck the retreat rights, fuck the tenure, fuck all of it. If students are being put in danger then that needs to be a priority. It makes me feel hopeless as a student to know that this happens. I demand a safe campus for all students.

I commend the athletes who are stepping forward in the Times Standard to publicly share their pain. I appreciate the Times Standard for telling their story. The truth is that it is not enough. It is now on us, as the student body, to write emails, make calls, start conversation around us that will bring change to pressure admin into change. They don’t act until we collectively demand better conditions.

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