The mother of a Florida women’s basketball player repeatedly emailed Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin in 2019 to inform him of women’s basketball head coach Cam Newbauer’s abusive treatment of players in the program, according to a report from Zachary Huber of The Independent Florida Alligator, with Stricklin acknowledging the emails and vowing to “assess where we can improve.”
But Newbauer would remain Florida’s head coach until his July 2021 resignation, receiving a contract extension earlier in the year — and while Stricklin addressed concerns that he failed to properly act on Newbauer by saying in September that if he had known the depths of his alleged abuse, he would not have extended his contract, his response to a second email from B.B. Staples, the mother of Florida walk-on Corey Staples, suggests that he responded to a repeated allegation with a suggestion that players avail themselves of resources to cope with their conditions.
Huber’s piece follows his September bombshell collecting allegations from several former Gators players that paint a picture of Newbauer as an abusive coach unfit to lead Florida’s program from nearly the moment of his hiring. The bulk of the allegations made by players in that piece were reiterated by players to ESPN’s Outside the Lines — some of them on camera — for a segment aired and a piece published on October 1.
Zach Goodall of Sports Illustrated’s AllGators site followed up with outspoken former Florida player Cydnee Kinslow — who had previously spoken with Huber — in October as well. That report details a slew of allegations, including that she and another teammate each attempted suicide while suffering through Florida’s 2020-21 season, and that Newbauer’s abuse and manipulation ran the gamut from asking her to cover up tattoos as a means of setting an example for his young daughters to accusing Kinslow and a teammate of dating and calling it “unacceptable on my team.”
Per Huber’s latest report, B.B. Staples first emailed Stricklin on January 1, 2019, after she saw a post on Facebook suggesting other parents and players had sent letters to Stricklin alleging abuse by Newbauer.
“I no longer can watch and sit silent because if something happens to ANY of these girls the blood will be on my hands and that makes me no better than the other adults that watch out of fear,” B.B. wrote in the first email, sent Jan. 1, 2019.
She asked Stricklin to protect the student-athletes from the toxic environment and compared the situation to domestic violence.
Stricklin responded to that much like he had to the parents of Sydney Morang in 2018, acknowledging receipt of the email and pledging to “assess where we can improve for the benefit of our student-athletes.”
B.B. Staples would go on to send Stricklin, executive associate athletic director for administration Lynda Tealer, and executive associate athletic director for external affairs Jay Jacobs a total of five emails from January to March of 2019, including a January 25 message making an allegation — also made by Haley Lorenzen to both Huber and ESPN in the September report — that Newbauer had thrown a basketball and hit a player recovering from a torn ACL in her injured leg.
For Staples, that was deeply personal — the player was her daughter, Corey. And Corey Staples says Florida failed to investigate the allegation fully.
She told Stricklin about the time Newbauer hurled basketballs toward players. One of them hit her daughter’s injured knee.
A source close to UF’s investigation told ESPN they found no evidence Newbauer threw basketballs at players. Corey, however, said Newbauer showed no remorse when he threw the basketball that hit her injured knee.
“They didn’t even try to investigate it,” she said. “All of our practices are recorded, and so we’re not just making that up.”
The incident involving Corey Staples is just one of three allegations of Newbauer throwing basketballs at players made in Huber’s initial piece. Staples pushing back on the idea that a proper investigation was performed — and noting that Florida’s practices were recorded, as is standard throughout college sports, likely creating a clear record of any abuse — is the strongest public criticism of the handling of the abuse allegations by Stricklin and Florida’s University Athletic Association from a former player thus far.
And Staples further alleges that one of Florida’s moves to “improve for the benefit of our student-athletes,” one her mother emailed Stricklin to thank him for making, proved to be literally laughable at one juncture — at least for Newbauer and Jacobs.
She sent a fourth email Feb. 12, 2019, to thank Stricklin and Tealer after he assigned Jay Jacobs, the executive associate athletics director for external affairs, to watch over Newbauer.
“This man didn’t care about us, either,” Corey said. “There’s nothing that’s going to be changed here. They don’t care about us.”
Corey Staples remembered seeing a player walk out of a meeting with Jacobs and Newbauer crying right before a home game. Newbauer and Jacobs left the room seconds later, giggling and laughing.
“He was there to be his buddy,” she said. “He was just eating our food and, you know, traveling with us and having a good time.”
The report also suggests that B.B. Staples emailed Stricklin about Newbauer claiming to players that he was untouchable — leading Staples to make a comparison to former Maryland football head coach DJ Durkin, who presided over the program when lineman Jordan McNair died after suffering heat stroke during offseason conditioning.
Huber’s report also includes new allegations from yet another former player, Emer Nichols, who transferred from Texas A&M to Florida before the 2018-19 season, sat out for a year, and played sparingly in 2019-20.
Nichols claims that she developed health conditions at Florida that led to a diagnosis of lupus — and believes the toxic environment fostered by Newbauer sparked flare-ups of the condition, which she has not experienced since leaving the team.
Stricklin’s public response to the sweeping allegations about Newbauer and Florida’s handling of him has been brief, and public only in a limited sense. In a statement emailed to media members on the day of Huber’s first report being published in September, Stricklin said, in part, that “the culture of the women’s (basketball) program under Head Coach Cam Newbauer is in no way consistent with the values of the University of Florida.”
Stricklin then met with a select group of four media members — a solid group of respected reporters and a columnist from established print media organizations, but one without Huber, whose story prompted the meeting, or Goodall, who obtained Stricklin’s statement — the day after that report was published to answer questions and admit “We failed” when it came to Newbauer, producing headlines with that confessional while also drawing criticism for the meeting’s inadequacies.
Stricklin has not spoken publicly about the allegations since that meeting.
Newbauer — whom Huber says he has attempted to contact via “seven requests for comment through phone calls, texts and voicemails” — has not spoken publicly about the allegations at all, with his last public comment coming as part of Florida’s release on his resignation.
”Being the head coach of the University of Florida women’s basketball team has been the honor of a lifetime,” Newbauer said.
“After much reflection, my family and I have come to the difficult decision to step away. Gator Nation and the Gainesville community have accepted me, my wife Sarah and our three daughters from the day we arrived. We will greatly miss all of the people that have made our experience and make this place so special. ”There are many people who I am forever grateful for, but I especially want to thank all of the players who I had the privilege to coach. I have no doubt that the program we built is poised for great success.”
Kelly Rae Finley — the only assistant coach hired by Newbauer to be at his side for all four years of his tenure in Gainesville — was named interim coach at that juncture, and current Gators players have rallied around her since her ascension to the program’s big chair.
Florida, however, has started the 2021-22 season 1-2, with the Gators following a rally from an early deficit in their season opener against Georgia State at home by getting blown out by Towson and a nationally ranked NC State team in the Preseason NIT over the weekend.
The Gators will play Wofford in their final game of the event at 4:30 p.m. on Monday. Should they lose, they will fall to 1-3 on the season — their worst start since an 0-6 skid to begin the 2018-19 season. That campaign ended with Florida going 8-23 and 3-13 in SEC play — two of its conference wins came by two points each.
And despite multiple allegations of abuse having been acknowledged by Stricklin by that point, Newbauer would coach the Gators for two more full seasons, with his lead assistant taking over after his departure.