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Rhonda Revelle

Nebraska coach Rhonda Revelle watches the action against Minnesota on April 19 at Bowlin Stadium.

Less than a week after Rhonda Revelle was reinstated, an unknown number of players from the 2019 team voiced their concerns to the College Athlete Advocacy Initiative about the university's decision to keep the Huskers' longtime softball coach.

The advocacy group released a statement Friday in support of team members, and according to the release, the players had discussed boycotting fall practice, which is set to begin Sunday. No players were named in the release.

Nebraska athletic director Bill Moos announced Revelle's reinstatement Sunday evening, one day before the start of fall classes.

According to the College Athlete Advocacy Initiative, players wanted to break their "University-imposed silence Friday to share stories of mistreatment and harassment." A number of current and former players detailed numerous instances of concerning behavior by Revelle and others in the Husker program, including allegations of persistent verbal and psychological abuse, intimidation, fat-shaming, excessive practice time and disregard of injuries, the advocacy group said.

A story published Friday by The Washington Post included similar details.

"People aren’t listening to us," a current Husker softball player told the advocacy group. "We’re not just concerned, we’re scared. How do they not see something is wrong?"

The Nebraska Athletic Department released a statement Friday afternoon.

"First and foremost, the well-being of our student-athletes will always be the top priority at the University of Nebraska," Moos said in the statement. "As previously stated, the concerns brought forward by members of our softball program were taken very seriously.

"We initiated a comprehensive review, and Coach Revelle and her staff understand the seriousness of the student-athlete concerns. As a result of the issues that were raised, we have worked with Coach Revelle to address and alleviate those concerns moving forward.

"The University cannot comment further on a personnel matter."

According to the advocacy group, the players "united" following last season to express their concerns in surveys they intentionally made anonymous for fear of retaliation. Not every player made accusations against Revelle, a source told the Journal Star.

The Journal Star has reached out to multiple players and parents associated with the 2019 team, but none have wanted to disclose details of the investigation.

It was learned July 9 that Revelle was on paid administrative leave, and over the next month, an internal and external investigation was conducted and players and staff members were interviewed.

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"Athletes revealed psychological and verbal abuse that included bullying, intimidation, derogatory name-calling, intrusions into athletes’ personal lives, and harassing text messages from the coach at all hours of the day," Friday's statement from the College Athlete Advocacy Initiative read. "The players were forced to rank each other regarding their perceived commitment to the team and bombarded with questions about their personal lives and romantic relationships. Several parents expressed concerns with the behavior and have contacted the University to complain.

"Athletes stated that the team regularly exceeded NCAA-imposed practice limits, a topic of concern across college sports in recent years, which has led to revised rules on athlete time demands. The young women indicated that practice calendars were routinely disregarded and they were pressured to falsely attest to forms verifying compliance with time limits. Athletes revealed that complaints about the excessive time demands or objections to signing off on practice hours had been met with punishment in the past."

According to the players, they were highly discouraged from seeking legal counsel during the investigation and administrators told them that the university represented them.

Friday's release from the advocacy group quoted another player: "They told us there would be consequences if we talked to anyone about it. We were scared to speak."

Prior to Sunday's announcement that Revelle would return as coach, no Nebraska softball players had entered their names into the NCAA transfer portal.

Revelle has coached the Huskers for 27 seasons. She's led the program to 20 NCAA Tournament appearances, including three Women's College World Series. The last came in 2013.

Nebraska has failed to reach the NCAA Tournament in each of the past three seasons. NU finished 21-31 this season, its worst record since 1994.

Moos briefly discussed the decision to reinstate Revelle during an appearance on "Sports Nightly" on Wednesday.

"It was a long process and the reason why it was a long process was it needed to be dissected (and) looked at," Moos said. "There were some concerns from the players about the coaching staff and it was enough that we had to take a look at it. 

"It was a priority all summer. I really felt at the end of the day with some changes in some of the approach, the best course of action was to reinstate (Revelle) and go forward on into the fall here."

According to the College Athlete Advocacy Initiative's website, its mission is to coordinate legal services for college athletes on NCAA-related matters, and "launch advocacy campaigns to combat inequality and exploitation of athletes in the multibillion-dollar college sports industry." The New York-based group was launched in March.

 

Reach the writer at 402-473-2639 or cgrell@journalstar.com. On Twitter @LJSSportsGrell.

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