Monday, November 20th, 2017

Jody Adams facing scrutiny after a history-making season, allies come forward to support coach

Published on April 26, 2015

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Letters of support from former playersKaci BaileyMarisah HendersonChynna TurnerJazimen GordonCarlai Moore

When Jody Adams took over as head coach of Wichita State in the spring of 2008, the program was a perennial cellar dweller in the Missouri Valley Conference with years of dismal records. After a 9-20 season with just three wins in conference play, the school fired Jane Albright who left the program at 48-95 in five seasons.

Now with Adams at the helm, WSU is an MVC power with three conference tournament titles and five straight years of postseason play. Before Adams took over, WSU had never earned a berth in the NCAA tournament, won a conference title or had consecutive 20-plus win seasons. During the NCAA sub-regional in Berkeley this past March, Adams talked about the challenge of creating a winning tradition.

“The first thing we wanted to do seven years ago was change our environment, into a winning environment,” said Adams, who won a national championship as a starting point guard for Tennessee in 1991. “We had never won anything, period. No trophies were at Wichita State. Now, this will be history at some point. This will be tradition. Now, winning is in our DNA. It starts with a vision and a dream, and then the planning of that and then the hard work put into that. To see it all come about, to me it’s a beautiful thing. It’s one thing to build it to get here, but to get here three years straight and win three straight championships – that’s a different beast. That’s my players. You can motivate them and get them excited, but they’ve put in hard work.”

Under Adams, Alex Harden, the MVC Player of the Year, ended a college career as the most decorated player in program history and was selected as the 18th overall pick in the WNBA draft earlier this month.

Adams came to WSU after leading Murray State to a 24-8 record in her only year there and a stint as an associate head coach at Southern Illinois. She has also coached at Missouri-Kansas City, Minnesota, Wake Forest and Auburn.

However, in the midst of her successful tenure at WSU, she faces allegations of mental and verbal abuse from several players transferring from the program and their parents. The players that are transferring this year have not spoken publicly but their accusations have made been public via unnamed sources and through Lou Heldman, WSU vice president of strategic communications.

Since the end of the season, four athletes have announced they are leaving WSU: junior forward Michaela Dapprich; her sister, sophomore forward Moriah Dapprich; sophomore guard Alie Decker; and sophomore guard Kayla White. Decker and junior Dapprich were starters in 2014-15.

During Adams’ early years at WSU, several players who were recruited by the previous coaching staff, including Jadhon Kerr, quit before or during the season.

“I didn’t feel this was the place for me,” said Kerr back then according to the Wichita Eagle. “I felt like I was mistreated by Jody on a daily basis. I decided to stay (in 2008-09) for my teammates.”

Molly O’Brien, a former player, also spoke out against Adams via video. O’Brien was kicked off the team in 2012 for violating team rules.

The most recent accusations came to light last week when it was revealed that WSU president John Bardo had appointed a faculty representative, Dr. Julie Scherz, to look into the cause of the transfers. The president described the informal investigation as a “listening tour.”

Transfers are nothing new in the current women’s basketball landscape. Other programs that have multiple transfers this year include Minnesota, Oklahoma State, Indiana, Texas, Clemson, Loyola (IL), Marquette, Marist, Vanderbilt, Oregon, Illinois State, West Virginia and Texas A&M.

Over 200 female players left a program this past year, still much less than the over 600 men’s players that transferred in last year’s offseason. Fans and coaches in women’s basketball frequently lament on social media about the rising tide of student-athletes quitting one school to seek perceived greener pastures at another.

Initially, only players who had negative things to say about Adams had their concerns voiced in the media. In addition, KWCH, a local television station, published anonymous complaints from the mother of a player that transferred.

The players also allege that athletic director, Eric Sexton, has not treated their complaints seriously.

In response, Sexton issued the following statement.

“We take student welfare very seriously and I am deeply concerned by the reports this week that members of the women’s basketball team felt demeaned, rather than motivated, by the coaching they received.

The independent inquiry by faculty athletics representative professor Julie Scherz is entirely appropriate and the Athletics staff is committed to learning from this experience and doing right by students. When the process is completed, decisions will be made to help move the women’s basketball program forward.

I feel badly that there is a perception among players that their complaints weren’t heard and acted upon. Their complaints were taken seriously.”

While the allegations against Adams are a cause for concern and deserve investigation, the two-time MVC Coach of the Year does have supporters. A few of them emailed Hoopfeed with letters expressing their views on the situation and detailing their experiences with Adams.

Kaci Bailey, assistant coach, University of Central Arkansas

I am a former player for Jody Adams at Southern Illinois University. I have the upmost respect for her as a coach and as a person.

While she was only at SIU for two of my four years, she impacted me in many ways. She helped me believe in myself when I doubted my abilities. She was always there to talk, push me, and give a hug when needed.

I graduated from SIU and entered the coaching world. Jody has always been a positive reference for me. When I was named interim head coach for one year, she was a phone call away to offer advice.

Jody is a proven winner and someone I call a friend who influence me as a coach.


Marisah Henderson, former WSU player (2008-10, junior college transfer)

In the last week I have seen the scrutiny my coach has been under. Wholeheartedly, I do not agree with the picture being painted about coach Adams. The summer of 2008, I entered WSU as a juco transfer. At WSU I was challenged on the court to be the best day in and out. I was never verbally or physically abused.

At times I did not like how coach may have put things, but they correlate with how the real world operates. My junior year I had trouble understanding the culture, I struggled communicating, which carried over to my problems as a PG on the court.

Entering my senior season, Jody took the time to help me solve some deeply rooted issues that were affecting me on the court. During my senior season I was able to embrace my leadership role and communicate in an effective manner.

Since graduating I can see why her style is as such, it prepares you for the real world because due to the rigorous schedule, you’re unable to gain some of the same work experience as other students. Two years post-graduation, Jody and the staff supported me at my mother’s funeral service. What I was felt was the hardest days doesn’t match the hardest day of my life that my former coach was there for me. Without my WSU days I wouldn’t be able to survive today with the events that have occurred since I graduated.


Chynna Turner, former WSU player (2009-13)

I am a former Wichita State basketball player who played for Jody Adams…and still have a great relationship with her. I can only speak for myself and from my own personal experiences and say that my experience at WSU was beneficial in helping mold me into the person that I am today.

From the beginning Jody said she would make me a better basketball player but most importantly a better person. She was constantly motivating me to be a better person and not just a basketball player. Her words on the court meant a lot, but what she instilled in me off the court had a much greater impact. She used basketball as a tool to help teach me life lessons on leadership, having accountability, building lasting relationships and what it means to work hard.

Jody was my coach, but also someone who mentored me. She taught me the life skills needed to be a part of any work environment and to handle any obstacles that life could/would throw at me. She was tough on the court like any other coach and motivated us to be great even when we didn’t believe that we could. Things weren’t always easy, but in order to do the unexpected we had to get out of our comfort zone. All though she was tough on the court, off the court she always wrote personal notes and shared words of encouragement.

Jody is a basketball coach that expects greatness from all of her players, but most importantly she is a person who cared about her players well-being. My time at WSU was beneficial to my development as a person, and if I had to do it all over again I would.


Jazimen Gordon, former WSU player (2009-13) and current graduate assistant

I can speak for myself and say that my experience at WSU has been very impactful and a huge key in who I am today.

Through Jody I have met and made unbelievable connections with people in the community and have engraved bonds that I know will last lifetime. While playing for Jody I learned what it meant to be a leader, have accountability, and also how to join different cultures and mesh them into a team.

I will say that my playing days were no golden path but my mom once told me that anything that is worth achieving isn’t going to be easy and it will put challenges in front of you and you will have to distinguish between emotion and the bigger picture and I constantly kept this in mind when playing. Because of this tactic I was able to see the bigger picture and I am proud to say that as I look back on what I experienced I would not be the person I am today.

I can remember having mature talks with Jody as a sophomore that I will always remember and take with me the rest of my life. I know that if I ever need anything for Jody she would do all she could for me.

I would also like to say that some of the allegations being made are totally out of context. I have never in my six seasons ever heard of any coach that has been a part of this program ever say anything along those lines of hitting someone in the face with a ball if they do not continue practice let alone Jody.

I also have a very hard time believing that anyone was forced to hold boulders until their arms bled. This I know for a fact is not true at all.

We do have boulders and they are made out of concrete and while carrying them your arm may become scratched but it incorporated into our girls workout in conditioning in the off and preseason. To my knowledge I haven’t heard of it being a punishment or seeing it.


Carlai Moore, former player at UMKC and SIU under Adams

I played for Jody at UMKC and then transferred to play under her at SIU. That right there speaks volumes to who she is as a coach and a person. I was 20 minute away from home, I played in front of my family and all my high school fans. I had a great thing going on at UMKC. So for me to transfer to a school that was now five hours away with no one really to support me in the stands, having to sit a year and go to a team that was at the bottom, says a lot.

My move to SIU was not because we were winning but because I had a coach that invested time in me as person. I was very fortunate to play under both Adams and Dana Eikenberg (coach mentioned in Molly O’Brien story).

As a player, Jody didn’t just help me become a better player but a better person. She instilled in me a drive to win in every aspect of my life. She is one who pushes you both on and off the court and is there for you every step of the way.

Some of my greatest moments playing for Jody were not my behind the back ESPN-worthy lay-up move at UMKC, or winning the MVC Championship at SIU, but Jody being there for me when my parents divorced and helping me through a life changing event that occurred at SIU. I didn’t ask for much but when I needed a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, or words of encouragement Jody was there.

For most when they think of Jody they think about the Shockers and the winning environment there but when I think about Jody I think about the great person she is. Because when all the wins and losses are laid to rest you, still have a great woman standing. And that woman took a chance on me and gave me my first assistant coaching job after only one month of being a graduate assistant.

I learned so much from her as a coach at Murray State and Wichita State. It was during those years I grew as a coach and why I am still coaching today. What Jody expected out of me is what I expect out of my players today. She had a motto: “We want your daughter to graduate with a diploma in hand and a ring on the other hand.”

She wasn’t just all about winning. She wanted each of her players to graduate and be more than just basketball. Yes she built a winning environment but she also built a learning environment. My favorite part about recruiting was the opportunity to sell Jody. It was fun sharing with a recruit things about Jody. Fun to tell the recruits how passionate she is and how devoted she is to every player. And let’s be honest, for your head coach to take the time and really be involved just doesn’t happen at every school.

When you think about the intangibles of the game think about Jody. Everyone sees her passionately coach but no one sees her going to the doctor with her players, going to lunch with past and present players, having one-on-one sessions about leadership or goal planning and having the team be welcomed into her family by her parents. She wants nothing more than her players to succeed in whatever they do.

As for this Molly incident, it wasn’t ignored. The young lady left because she didn’t have the experience she was expecting and it wasn’t a good fit. Bottom line, we all have faced an opportunity that we were excited about and then later found out that wasn’t really for me. Well this is the same case.

I am not stating that Molly’s feelings are wrong I’m only stating that we need to look at the big picture and recognize not everyone will be happy. And if we look at any program in the country you will find programs where players have transferred because they weren’t happy, it wasn’t what they were expecting or they weren’t a good fit. There are also programs that express discipline by running or push-ups etc. So let’s not hone in on that with Jody as if she has created such a bad environment. Her environment is intense, challenging and flat our tough. All qualities one needs to possess when headed into the real world.

I commend Jody on having a player who was the 18th pick in the WNBA draft, a player who is currently playing overseas and numerous players who are now coaches. But what I am most excited about and commend her on, is the impact she had on young women and the ability to create an environment of personal growth that exceeded beyond the lines on the court. Jody is an excellent coach but most of all she is an excellent person.


 

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  • Susan Orvis

    This is my first blog…ever. My first post. Quite frankly, I have never understood the whole deal as to how folks can post messages and statements within our media these days, particularly statements that can be damaging to others and either remain "anonymous" or hide behind a twitter handle. Even when names can be signed, it's amazing how comments and allegations can run rampant. I'm breaking my own personal rule and jumping in on this one because it involves a mentor of mine, Jody Adams.

    My name is Susan Orvis and I worked alongside Jody as assistant coach for 8 years during stints at UMKC and Southern Illinois. It was a tremendous privilege and one of my finest professional learning opportunities to help run a team and program with Jody. Of course, her pedigree and skill with coaching and teaching the game is impeccable. The results, throughout her playing and coaching career, speak volumes and for themselves.

    However, we are treading on much more important territory here. We are talking about character, Jody's heart and concern for her players, and her ability to strike the important balance between being competitive and caring.
    The fact that these attributes are in question astounds me. I witnessed Jody's actions up-close for 8 years, and I can tell you that Jody's heart for her players and fellow staff members is HUGE. She is a family-oriented individual and her teams and programs are treated as such. I have seen the way that Jody intently works with her players on and off the court as she works for them to discover their potential. Countless times, I have witnessed the positive and encouraging actions she demonstrates. I have been a part of hundreds of meetings and conversations that staff members have in regards to the positive well-being of their student-athletes. She puts in unbelievable hours to help her players and staff be successful.

    Behind all of these things is the genuine intention of Jody to develop her players to become the best they can be athletically and academically. Further, Jody truly loves her staff and players, and desires that they become more than just productive citizens. She hopes for more for them. She works to help them to become LEADERS, and have the tools and confidence necessary to not only survive but succeed in a world that is getting tougher and tougher for young people to navigate.

    Division 1 basketball is not easy. It's a tremendously competitive landscape and it requires a level of hard work that no player truly understands until they step on campus – any campus. But, it also presents a special opportunity to get a first-class education, an extended basketball career, and top-notch leadership training for those who embrace it. I was fortunate enough to play at the University of Iowa years ago, and there is no question-it was hard work. Excellence was demanded.It was also the best life and leadership training I have ever received. At some point, each day I draw on those tough experiences and count on those trusted relationships that were developed during those years.

    I stand 100% behind Jody Adams. She is a tremendous coach, but most importantly, an exemplary person. She's all heart. I have seen her commitment first-hand for 8 years and how she has made a difference for a number of student-athletes and staff members. I know the difference that she has made for me.

    Thanks for your time. I think it is important for other positive accounts to get some print as well.

    • GARRY DAVIS

      THIS IS ALSO MY 1ST BLOG…MY NAME IS GARRY DAVIS, I AM A LIFETIME WICHITAN AND 15YR SEASON TICKET HOLDER FOR WSU WOMENS BBALL. THESE LATEST ALLEGATIONS ARE NOT THE 1ST BUT PROBABLY THE WORST AND FOR SURE THE FOUR GIRLS THAT ARE LEAVING WILL HAVE THE BIGGEST EFFECT ON ANY 1 SEASON THOUGH LOSING J HOYT WAS ALSO BAD. ALONG WITH THESE 5 GIRLS THERE HAVE BEEN 12 OTHERS TRANSFER TO OTHER TEAMS OR QUIT PLAYING ALL TOGETHER IN THE 7YRS JODY ADAMS HAS BEEN OUR HEAD COACH. I BELIEVE THIS NUMBER IS TOO HIGH NOT TO BELIEVE ANY OF THE GIRLS' STORIES. I DONT THINK MOST PEOPLE WATCH WOMENS BASKETBALL FOR THE COMPETITIVE FEVER THAT THEY MAY WATCH THE MENS BALL. SO FROM MY VIEWPOINT I WOULD RATHER SEE AN AVERAGE TEAM LIKE UNDER D. SMITH AND FEEL THAT THE GIRLS WERE HAVING A BETTER EXPERIENCE WITH LESS INCIDENTS/ALLEGATIONS THEN TO BE WHERE WE ARE NOW. THE REALITY MAY BE SOMETHING VERY SIMPLE IN THAT THIS COACH MAY NOT BE A GOOD FIT FOR A TEAM IN THIS PART OF THE MIDWEST. I WOULD LIKE TO READ ANY REPLIES ESPECIALLY ONES INVOVING THE STAT OF 2.5 TRANSFERS PER YEAR REGARDING IF THAT IS ABOVE OR BELOW THE NAT'L AVG.

  • Just Me

    I believe the young ladies. I know one of them and she had a VERY demanding AAU coach. Honestly, he was a straight up a**hole and she played for him for years. So I have a hard time believing she's only doing this because she can't handle the pressure.

  • Nicole Rodgers

    These are these girls point of view and what they experienced. A person may be nice and have great character to on person and to another not so nice . We only know about a person what they let us know. Those girls just transferred the president of the school decided to look into it . The girls didn’t tell why they left until the school asked . What reason do they have to lie . They we willing to go on their way and move on.

  • Pingback: Former WSU women’s basketball player speaking out | KSN-TV()

  • Johnathan Sloasi

    While I never like to hear about these kinds of allegations, I have to say that it is happening more and more to high level successful coaches. It appears to be this generation of kids. Toughness and criticism isn't something that they seem to be used to. If we turn over coaching decisions to the kids, and choices of the "right" coach to the kids and their parents, we will never again enjoy successful seasons at WSU. Coach Adams is a fantastic coach and person, from the times I have interacted with the program, and I hope we are able to get players who WANT a tough, quality coach

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