Report: Basketball players accuse ex-Oakland coach of mental abuse

Up to 15 former Oakland University women’s college basketball players allege their ex-coach, Beckie Francis, used various forms of intimidation and imposed her religious views before she was ultimately fired on June 12, according to a USA Today report.

Francis, who spent 13 seasons as the head coach at Oakland, reportedly harassed her team to the point of mental abuse, scrutinized the weight of her players and inquired about their sexual activity.

According to guard Stacey Farrell, an incoming freshman in 2007, Francis told the players, “We don’t fraternize with the men’s team. By the way, are you guys virgins? You guys are virgins, right? You haven’t had sex, right?”

“Mental abuse is definitely the two words that describe my three years there,” Farrell told USA Today. She was one of a large number of players to leave the program early under Francis’ tenure.

Curiously, the day Francis was fired, her husband Gary Russi (then the president at Oakland University) retired.

The school gave little explanation for her firing, briefly mentioning in a statement that an investigation into her conduct had begun in April.

In part, the statement read: “Indications of conduct and behavior of the women’s basketball coach, that if true could be malfeasance and materially adversely affect the orderly or efficient operation of the women’s basketball program, came to the attention of an Oakland University administrator in April.”

During Francis’ 13-year tenure, 36 of the 170 players listed on rosters left the program early, including seven in just the past two seasons. 

While at Oakland, she compiled a record of 227-162 and made two women’s NCAA tournament appearances. 

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