Georgia Tech releases statement on dismissal of head coach MaChelle Joseph

Less than an hour after the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Ken Sugiura reported that Georgia Tech fired head coach MaChelle Joseph, the school issued a statement confirming the news.

The dismissal comes after the school put Joseph on leave Feb. 27 pending what was termed a personnel matter. Joseph’s lawyer responded to the leave the next day with an email sent to media outlets.

Head Women’s Basketball Coach MaChelle Joseph was suspended yesterday without explanation from the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech). Given that the school has failed to provide any explanation to Coach Joseph, her agent, or her lawyers, despite repeated requests, we are left to conclude that this is the latest, and most serious, action in a string of ongoing retaliation that she has suffered for raising concerns about gender equity issues in the Athletic Department. Coach Joseph, who has served at Georgia Tech for over 15 years, and is the winningest coach in the history of Georgia Tech Women’s Basketball, can conceive of no action by her that would warrant such a drastic and punitive measure. Coach Joseph intends to take whatever steps are necessary to defend her reputation and return to coaching her team, which is currently poised to earn a much coveted berth in the NCAA tournament.

Georgia Tech fell 80-73 in the second round of the ACC Tournament to North Carolina on March 7. The team turned down a bid to play in the WNIT and finished the season 17-13 (7-9 ACC).

The full statement from Georgia Tech:

Joseph’s dismissal comes following an independent investigation by Littler Mendelson P.C. Employment and Labor Law Solutions Worldwide. Georgia Tech retained the services of Littler Mendelson on Feb. 25, 2019, after women’s basketball student-athletes brought forward concerns about player and staff mistreatment by Joseph.

Joseph was placed on leave on Feb. 27 while the investigation took place. As part of the investigation, Littler Mendelson completed 40 interviews. Individuals interviewed included Joseph, the team’s 2018-19 assistant coaches, all 13 members of the 2018-19 team, various administrators and support staff, as well as parents of student-athletes.

A final report on the investigation was submitted by Littler Mendelson on March 20. Among the findings were that every student-athlete reported “concerns regarding alleged emotional or mental mistreatment” by Joseph, and that student-athletes described the environment around the team as “toxic,” “suffocating,” “unhealthy” and “hostile” and described Joseph’s conduct as “bullying” and “emotionally, mentally and verbally ‘abusive.’”

Additionally, several student-athletes reported allegations that, if true, may constitute violations of NCAA rules, Littler Mendelson concluded. Georgia Tech has initiated a review of these allegations with the NCAA.

Joseph was given the opportunity to respond to the report. Her response was received on March 25. After reviewing the report and Joseph’s response, Georgia Tech director of athletics Todd Stansbury made the decision to dismiss Joseph on March 26. Stansbury informed Joseph of the decision during an in-person meeting.

“After learning of the concerns of women’s basketball student-athletes about Coach Joseph’s conduct, Georgia Tech retained the services of Littler Mendelson to conduct an investigation of the allegations,” Stansbury said. “The findings outlined in the report have left us no choice but to dismiss Coach Joseph.

“Student-athlete well-being will always be the top priority of our athletics department,” Stansbury said. “I am disappointed and saddened to learn that the well-being of our student-athletes was being compromised. The findings of the independent investigation make it clear that the dismissal of Coach Joseph is necessary to restore the well-being of student-athletes as the No. 1 priority within our women’s basketball program.”

Georgia Tech will immediately begin a national search for the sixth women’s basketball head coach in program history.

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