Former Loyola player felt 'humiliated, belittled' by Sheryl Swoopes

A former player of Loyola Chicago women's basketball coach Sheryl Swoopes said she was the victim of "emotional abuse" by the Hall of Fame player.

"I was humiliated, belittled," Cate Soane said Wednesday. "I was subject to a lot of inappropriate conduct."

Swoopes is under investigation by the university following complaints and a mass exodus of players from the program. Ten of the team's 12 returning players have transferred or put in requests to be released from their scholarships. Five players transferred after the 2014-15 season.

Soane, who left the team after the 2013-14 season, said Swoopes created a hostile environment around the team and routinely threatened to cut players from the roster or have their scholarships scrapped. She said the coach also mocked her and accused her of being disloyal.

The environment became so hostile, she said, that players turned on each another and mistrust spread throughout the athletic department.

"It made it hard to play," Soane said. "It wasn't about working hard and having fun anymore. It was about surviving."

Sources told the Loyola Phoenix that at least one player had met with athletic director Steve Watson to voice concerns about Swoopes' demeanor.

Deputy athletic director Jermaine Truax said last week the allegations were "more than concerning" and that Swoopes "will fully cooperate" with the investigation. Team spokesman Leo Krause said in an email Thursday that there were no updates on the investigation, which remains ongoing. Swoopes is allowed on campus during the inquiry.

Swoopes, a four-time WNBA champion and three-time Olympic gold medalist, was hired at Loyola in 2013 with only limited coaching experience, having served as an assistant at Mercer Island High School in Washington in 2010, according to Loyola's website. Her Loyola teams have gone a combined 31-62.

Soane said she was afraid to take her concerns to university administrators.

"What I can say is, she's an amazing player," said Soane, who transferred to UIC but left the team in February. "If you look at her record, she's an Olympic gold medalist. She was just put into the Hall of Fame.

"But just because you can play doesn't mean you're a great coach. She didn't have any experience prior to Loyola. And I actually learned more in one hour with coaches when I transferred to UIC than I did in an entire season at Loyola."

Soane added: "I don't think anyone should have to go through what I went through at Loyola."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.