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Syracuse Investigating Women’s Basketball Coach Quentin Hillsman

Not a good situation any way you look at it

NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament - Second Round - Syracuse
 SYRACUSE, NY - MARCH 25: Head coach Quentin Hillsman of the Syracuse Orange reacts to a play against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits during the first half in the second round of the 2019 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament at the Carrier Dome on March 25, 2019 in Syracuse, New York.
Photo by Rich Barnes/Getty Images

We don’t follow Syracuse women’s basketball closely so when we heard that 11 players entered the transfer portal following the season, we honestly had no clue.

But we suspected that coaching had to have some role in it.

As things have turned out, Syracuse coach Quentin Hillsman has seen a number of questions raised about how he runs his program.

The Athletic published an apparently well-sourced article Thursday which accused Hillsman of threats, bullying and unwanted physical contact.

Sarah Scalese, Syracuse’s senior associate vice president for communications, announced an external inquiry into Hillsman’s behavior. He’s accused, among other things, of going to each player and saying, in turn, “I don’t give a f*** about you” before turning a table over.

In fairness to Hillman, it may seem worse than it is because the portal gave players instant gratification, if you will, with anyone able to leave for any reason or none, and to play next year, assuming they are taken on somewhere else (one small problem with the portal is that not everyone is going to find a new school).

That said, it sure doesn’t sound good. Allegations and investigations don’t mean that he is necessarily guilty and coaches can survive such things, as Duke’s Joanne P. McCallie did. However, it was only for the extent of her contract and she resigned when she realized that she wouldn’t be getting an extension.

Whatever the truth is, both Hillsman and Syracuse are in a tough spot. Hillsman is likely to lose his job if any of this is verified, but if he is cleared, then Syracuse still has the perception of a male coach bullying and threatening female athletes.

Our guess is this ends up with the Orange hiring a new coach and if it were us, we’d think of two candidates: first, Gail Goestenkors, who did such a great job at Duke before leaving for Texas, and who never had the slightest hint of impropriety about her program. Currently an assistant for Kentucky, we think she’d consider it. She clearly wants to coach again.

And second, UConn great Shea Ralph. She took the Vanderbilt job last season but hasn't coached an actual game due to Covid.

Either one would be a great hire.