RICHMOND, Ky. (LEX 18) — Eastern Kentucky University has finished investigating allegations of misconduct against Colonels softball coach Jane Worthington, and Director of Athletics Matt Roan announced that the university is retaining the 30-year veteran.
The investigation began after Kaitlyn Young, a former softball student-athlete, came forward online with misconduct allegations against Worthington. Young cited mental and physical abuse by Worthington during her career at EKU. Multiple formers players spoke with LEX 18 over similar complaints, adding that Worthington played "mind games" on them, such as using the silent treatment or belittling them. Two other former players LEX 18 spoke with also defended Worthington. They said she was tough but not abusive.
At the time, Roan released a statement referring to the allegations as "serious" and said they "require a thorough examination of the facts."
The university says they went through an investigation by interviewing over 30 current and former players, staff members, and administrators. EKU says it found no school policy violations, criminal conduct, or previous filings of formal complaints against Worthington.
“As a former student-athlete, there is nothing more important to me than the experience of our student-athletes,” said Vice President and Director of Athletics Matt Roan. “At Eastern Kentucky University, we take all allegations involving our athletics department seriously. We have fully cooperated throughout the investigative process with EKU Human Resources and appreciate the thoroughness of the review. The daily objective of EKU Athletics is to continually improve in every aspect of intercollegiate athletics. We will, in addition to implementing planned program and department improvements, follow the recommendations resulting from the review. I want to express my appreciation for all those who came forward and participated in the investigation.”
The university also announced that on June 14th, its Board of Regents approved a full-time sports psychologist, a full-time director of softball operations, and increased Sports Medicine and Sports Performance personnel and resources, including a dietitian.
While the investigation found no violations, evidence was found to indicate needed improvement of communications, nutritional and mental health resources, and use of effective motivational tactics. They say they've also implemented the following:
- Educate coaching staffs on better ways to communicate with student-athletes
- Emphasize with student-athletes the proper channels to address concerns and bring forth grievances
- Clearly communicate the aspects of nutrition as a Division I student-athlete, as well as the use of performance analytical data in ensuring peak performance and student-athlete safety
- Provide leadership development for student-athletes and coaches
- Ensure all athletic strength and conditioning activities are reviewed by Sports Performance staff