Former players of the Florida Gators women’s basketball team recall a pattern of abuse by Cam Newbauer, former head coach. (6:33).
GAINESVILLE (Fla.) -- Haley Lorenzen was once a reliable player on the Florida Gators women’s basketball team. The 6-3 forward was the 10th Gator to play 100 games in her senior year of 2017-18.
Lorenzen stated that that the same season, her first under Cameron Newbauer's new Florida head coach, was also the year that her "love of the game" was at its lowest.
Lorenzen, now 25, is a sales representative for an Orlando construction company. She told ESPN that Newbauer's toxic culture made it difficult for her to pursue a passion she had all her life.
"I was able to play pro basketball. I was represented by an agent. Lorenzen stated that she even went to the WNBA Combine and was so disappointed. After her Newbauer experience, Lorenzen said that she never touched a basketball again for more than one year.
Lorenzen, one of five ex-Florida Gators who played under Newbauer, told ESPN that Newbauer routinely ridiculed and berated them during practices. Players described a stressful environment in which the slightest mistake during practice drills or games could lead to a retaliatory attack from their ex-coach. Players claimed that he used to throw basketballs at players. He also made racist comments and reduced players to tears with his profanity-laced tirades. Lorenzen and the other players made their claims Monday in a newspaper article published by The Independent Florida Alligator.
ESPN did not reach out to Newbauer for comment.
Newbauer was hired as the women's basketball head coach by Scott Stricklin in March 2017. Before arriving in Gainesville he had led Belmont University in Nashville, a private Christian school with just over 8,000 students to two trips to NCAA women's basketball tournament.
Newbauer received a three-year extension to his contract in June despite a winning percentage of less than 400 in his four first years at Florida.
Stricklin stated that Cam was building his program in the right way and making steady improvements when the extension was made public.
However, Newbauer abruptly resigned in mid-July citing personal reasons.
The school did not mention any instances of abuse at the time of his resignation. This acknowledgment was only made after the newspaper published allegations of abuse earlier in the week.
"There were concerns raised. Cam was contacted with additional information each time. These concerns were raised and Cam outlined clear expectations for behavior going forward. "In the end, we didn't see the necessary improvements and Coach Newbauer advised him to resign."
Stricklin spoke to a few reporters a day later, saying that "we failed in this situation" and that "ultimately it's my responsibility for this department's culture." "I'll accept responsibility."
Stricklin was not allowed to speak with ESPN because of university policy.
A spokesperson for the athletic department acknowledged that Newbauer's treatment towards his Gators players was a source of many complaints.
Stricklin was emailed April 2018 by Frank and Lynn Morang. They wrote that Newbauer created a toxic environment, and wasn't equipped to coach young women who were at an important point in their growth as athletes.
Lynn and Frank had heard about Newbauer’s behavior from their daughter. She was later medically retired following a series concussions. Their son was also a member the practice squad during Newbauer’s first season.
Lynn Morang, a Boston University basketball player herself, said that it was frustrating as a parent. It was disbelief that just kept growing to see a man treat young women as this as well as staff.
The Morangs emailed Stricklin to express their concerns. Kent Fuchs was also sent an email to Kent Fuchs's president. Newbauer's superiors at the athletic department made Newbauer aware of the complaints, and placed him under greater supervision.
ESPN interviewed players from all walks of Newbauer’s Florida tenure. Sydney Searcy is a Detroit Mercy guard and was a sophomore during Newbauer’s first season as the Gators' head coach. She recalls Newbauer calling players "b ----es" a lot. Others have also stated that Newbauer, a white man, made insensitive remarks about the tattoos and hairstyles of many Black players.
Searcy, a Black woman, stated that she saw Newbauer force three Black players to throw their clothes away because he was unhappy with their appearance.
Searcy stated that he didn't like the fact that they wore men's or baggier clothing. It was as if they were thugs. Searcy said, "He made them go to the locker room and throw away their clothes." "... I, a Black woman, saw the fear and pain in their eyes as they threw away their clothes.
Mikayla Hayes (also Black) played alongside Searcy. She also remembered the incident involving the three of them. According to ESPN Newbauer, she told her teammates to go to the mall to find clothing that was more appropriate.
Hayes stated that Newbauer was especially insensitive to LGBTQ+ teammates.
Hayes stated, "I had many gay teammates and he would always tell these guys he didn’t like how they looked or presented themselves." Hayes shared the same opinion as Lorenzen that Newbauer had a negative impact on her self-esteem, and diminished her love for the game. Hayes, now a graduate student at Xavier and center for the arts, said that five years later, she is finally feeling like herself again.
The experiences of Hayes, Searcy, and Lorenzen mirrors those of Cydnee Kishlow, a 6-2 forward who played for Newbauer in the 2020-21 season.
Kinslow, a member the LGBTQ+ community, stated that Newbauer called her once and had her look at practice video of her slapping hands with a colleague. Then, he asked if the two were in an intimate relationship.
Kinslow stated that it was difficult to support someone who was homophobic, sexist, and racist. Kinslow said that Kinslow treated women in a shocking manner. It was obvious that he had a complex about women and it was difficult for him to see the difference.
ESPN was contacted by several former Gators players to say that Kelly Rae Finley, the current interim head coach and Newbauer's associate coach, should be held responsible for not intervening to stop Newbauer from allegedly abusing her position.
Kinslow stated that Kelly was the one who stood behind Finley and treated his injuries, as well as cleaning up the mess and sweeping it under a rug. Finley was also not available by the university for interview.
A former Gators employee who claims he attended 95% practice provided an alternate account to ESPN on Friday. Out of concern for his employment, he declined to give his name but stated that Newbauer's abuse allegations are exaggerated.
Source: "There are parts to every story that are exaggerated, but I don’t believe anybody’s lying."
ESPN reported that Newbauer's coaching methods were "emotional" as well as "intense". He also said that Newbauer was a terrible coach and that his greatest problem was that he treated all players the same. Even those who may not respond to the "hard coaching". He said that he had never seen anything that crossed the line.
"Nothing physical. There is nothing racial. He said, "That's how I saw it.
According to another source, the school reviewed the allegations against Newbauer and found no evidence. There were no complaints against Newbauer for making insensitive racial comments.
"I don't deny that it happened. The source stated that they didn't find any evidence supporting these allegations.
Lorenzen and other ex-Gators spoke with ESPN, frustrated by the delay in bringing to light the allegations of abusive behavior.
Lynn Morang, the mother to a former player, provided an online tip for the school's newspaper alerting them to the true reasons for Newbauer's sudden resignation. Others, including the Morangs, were outraged that Newbauer was allowed by school officials to resign without being held responsible for his actions.
Lynn Morang stated, "We concluded that it was yet another example of an institution protecting its own over the people it was supposed protect, in this instance young women."
Haley Lorenzen hopes other athletes who are stuck in abusive situations will be inspired to speak out about their experience with their former coach.
"Mental Health is Important and Who You Hire is Important"
Newbauer, she said, should be an example of how schools can do so much damage to so many lives if they aren't chosen correctly.