Florida women's basketball team looks to move on from former coach's alleged abuse

Following the abuse allegations against former Florida women's basketball coach Cam Newbauer, the Gators insist they are ready to move on with each other and interim coach Kelly Rae Finley.

Finley, who spent the past four seasons as an assistant on Newbauer's staff, said she is working to change the program's culture.

"I think we do a lot of celebrating," Finley said. "It's important that we celebrate each other, that we empower each other, that we have the utmost confidence in ourselves individually as women and that we always seek to connect the dots and how that can help us grow in life."

Newbauer resigned as coach in mid-July for personal reasons. ESPN and The Independent Florida Alligator, a student-run paper that is not affiliated with the university, spoke to several former players who said the former coach routinely berated them at practices. The players said Newbauer made racist remarks, threw basketballs at them and belittled everyone around him, including assistants and staff members.

Finley's tenure also started under scrutiny. Cydnee Kinslow, one of the former players to make accusations against Newbauer, said Finley repeatedly made excuses for Newbauer and was thus complicit in his wrongdoing because she didn't do enough to prevent them from recurring.

Florida guards Lavender Briggs and Kiara Smith disagreed with Kinslow's assessment.

"I don't think if she let any of us down we would be here," said Briggs, the Gators' leading scorer last season who entered the NCAA transfer portal before eventually returning to Florida. "I had the opportunity to leave and I chose to stay because we see something in Kelly that is beautiful. She's strong and hardworking, and we love her as a coach and even more as a person, and she didn't let anybody down.

"She's here to help us become the best we can be as a team and off the court as well."

Briggs also challenged that there were "a bunch of false allegations and narratives going around" regarding what happened during Newbauer's tenure, saying Kinslow "doesn't speak for me; she doesn't speak for the team."

Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin last month accepted responsibility for Newbauer's toxic environment, saying "we failed in this situation."

Stricklin acknowledged getting reports about "some behavior that was a little concerning from a cultural standpoint" during Newbauer's first season in 2017. Instead of asking the university to investigate, Stricklin appointed a senior staff member, associate athletic director Jay Jacobs, to monitor the program.

The complaints slowed and eventually stopped, Stricklin said, and he gave Newbauer one final chance to show on-the-court improvement after going 46-71 in four seasons. Newbauer signed a three-year contract extension in March.

But four months later, Newbauer was involved in another situation that made it clear he was "still having an issue on the treatment part of people. And so we sat down, told him what his options were, and he chose to resign," Stricklin said.

Newbauer received a $283,250 buyout that will be split into installments.

Finley and everyone else left behind are working to pick up the pieces.

"It made us closer in so many ways on and off the court," Smith said. "As a team, we were already close. But this situation made us closer because we understand we got each other, we got the people that support. At the end of the day, that's all we need."

Information from ESPN's John Barr and The Associated Press was used in this report.