Case update: On August 4, 2023, the US District Court in San Francisco issued a pivotal ruling allowing the case filed by a group of student athletes against the University of San Francisco (USF) and two of the school’s former baseball coaches alleging abuse to move forward. Siding with the students in part, the court’s order is a milestone that, among other things, clears the way for FeganScott to begin the discovery process.
On February 8, 2023, FeganScott filed a second amended complaint against the University of San Francisco (USF), and former baseball coaches, Anthony Giarratano and Troy Nakamura. The second amended complaint includes claims from two additional plaintiffs. The lawsuit now represents fourteen former University of San Francisco (USF) baseball players.
On July 15, 2022, nine former University of San Francisco (USF) baseball players joined the class action lawsuit filed in March 2022 against their two (now former) baseball coaches, USF, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The players allege that USF coaches Anthony Giarratano and Troy Nakamura created an intolerable sexualized environment on the team over the course of 22 years, that USF knew about their misconduct and did nothing to stop it, and that the NCAA has inadequate policies in place to protect student-athletes from such abuse or prevent coaches from moving on to another member institution with impunity.
The amended complaint includes the claims brought by the original three plaintiffs. It provides vivid details of an environment rife with emotional abuse and highly sexualized behavior, with the earliest allegations dating back to 1999 — Giarratano’s first year as coach.
The original complaint was filed on March 11, 2022, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division. Since the filing, Giarratano and Nakamura have been fired, and USF athletic director, Joan McDermott, has left her position.
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.