On March 11, 2022, three University of San Francisco (USF) Baseball student-athletes filed a class-action lawsuit against the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA), USF, and two USF coaches, Nino Giarratano and Troy Nakamura, alleging a long-standing history of abuse of student-athletes by the coaches, ranging from inappropriate yelling and humiliation to wildly sexualized behavior as a routine intimidation tactic, including sexualized exercises and nudity on the field.
The complaint includes allegations that the NCAA failed to protect the student-athletes from sexual abuse and harassment, and also failed to create and enforce prohibitions of sexual contact between coaches and student-athletes.
In addition to the litany of abuses by the coaches, the complaint also details multiple attempts made by parents and others to demand the Jesuit university to step in to protect the student-athletes from ongoing abuse, only to have the school administration repeatedly ignore calls for assistance.
The 113-page complaint also cites records that show that of the 17 recruits in the 2020 USF baseball class, eight have transferred and two more are attempting to transfer, a 60% attrition rate. The national average for baseball student-athletes entering the transfer portal is 2%.
According to one USF student-athlete, he left the program after contemplating suicide due to the coaches’ abuse.
The lawsuit details how the sexualized abuse and bullying was so profound that many of the student-athletes became severely depressed, affecting their ability to study, and, in at least one student, was so extreme that the stress of the abuse created health issues leading to five emergency room visits. Others sought support from a range of mental health professionals.
The complaint details two instances, the most recent in November 2021, in which a coach dropped his pants in view of players on the field and gyrated his hips to spin his penis. This is in addition to a third instance where a coach put on a “skit” and pretended to be at a buffet, and told a player to do a handstand, then grabbed the player’s legs and mimed eating spaghetti out of the player’s genital area. Further instances include coaches screaming profanities at public games so foul that parents of the opposing team reported the event.
The lawsuit, filed by the law firms FeganScott and Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleges that the NCAA facilitated the coaches’ behavior by not implementing rules or imposing sanctions that would require member schools to take steps to prevent abuse by coaches, to force the school administrative faculty to pay attention to the complaints that do get made and to deter the perpetrators.
The lawsuit includes further allegations that the NCAA’s failure to prohibit sexual abuse contributed to threatening environments at its member institutions. Allegations against the coaches include verbal abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation, and public shaming.
Stay tuned on this case page for more updates.