Six former Oregon volleyball players signed a letter to UO officials alleging that former coaches Jim Moore and Stacy Metro mistreated them while they were members of the Ducks volleyball team, the Emerald has learned.
The letter, written by former player Naya Crittenden and forwarded to the Emerald, supported the university’s decision to part ways with the coaches. Attached to the letter were two personal letters written by Crittenden and ex-teammate Nicole Kevorken accusing Moore and Metro of ridiculing, body-shaming and verbally abusing them during practices, causing them to suffer anxiety and depression and to ultimately leave the team.
Crittenden sent the letter to UO President Michael Schill and UO’s athletic directors.
Moore declined to comment on this story. Metro and a UO athletic department spokesman could not immediately be reached.
The school announced in March that Moore retired and was “sorry” for his coaching style. Metro, his wife, no longer coaches volleyball but remains an UO employee. Moore, in his 12 years with the program, led the Ducks to 10 NCAA tournaments and one national championship game, becoming the winningest coach in school history. Metro has been an assistant coach at Oregon for 12 years and served as head coach of the beach volleyball team.
According to public records obtained by the Emerald, Moore and Metro will be paid according to their respective salaries through their resignation dates: May 15, 2017, and January 31, 2018, respectively.
The Register-Guard in March, before the school’s announcement, reported that 17 former players wrote a letter supporting Moore, but the recent letter signed by the six players said that Oregon’s athletic department didn’t properly address allegations of misconduct. Crittenden and Kevorken said both talked to an athletic department official about their concerns in 2015 but Moore and Metro continued to coach.
Both Crittenden and Kevorken’s letters alleged Moore and Metro, husband and wife, belittled players and created a culture in which players were afraid to speak out for fear of becoming a target of the coaches’ verbal abuse.
“I suffered from depression and anxiety quietly for two years, something I didn’t even identify until I transferred,” Crittenden wrote. “A player should never have to feel like that. No one should ever have to hate every moment of being a part of a team.”
The players accused Metro of body-shaming their teammates, including Kevorken. Kevorken said Metro belittled her after she ordered a bagel with cream cheese at a nutrition bar between practice sessions. According to Kevorken, Metro told her, “Nicky, you don’t need cream cheese. If someone like Canace [Finley] wants to eat cream cheese that’s one thing, but you of all people do not need to be eating cream cheese with a body like yours.”
“She looked my body up and down as she said this,” Kevorken wrote. “Not sure if she is aware or if she even cares, but speaking words like that to young women in such a tone is an action that often leads to eating disorders and body dysmorphia.”
Crittenden said after a “particularly messy practice filled with tears” in fall 2013, in which Metro allegedly repeatedly body-shamed a teammate, Moore sat down with the team and asked the players whether they wanted Metro fired.
“Of course, most of us did want her gone, but no one spoke up because we were too scared to actually voice our opinion on the matter,” Crittenden said.
According to Crittenden, Metro had a “negative attitude toward women and any type of femininity” and banned players from painting their nails and wearing colorful headbands and lipstick at practice.
Moore, Crittenden said, had frequent anger outbursts, including a time on a team trip in which he “threw a fit” at a Jamba Juice cashier because he ordered a drink before the rest of the team but received his last.
“All I am going to say is, those fits you see him throw during games, didn’t just happen during games,” Crittenden wrote.
Kevorken said Moore was kind and personable when he recruited her, but that he became a different person at her first practice.
“The kind, personable man that seemed to only have the best intentions was nowhere to be found,” Kevorken wrote. “Instead, he became this vicious, mean, degrading human being barking orders.”
Kevorken said Moore singled her out as a freshman and used her as “a scapegoat to take out his anger and aggression on.” She said she spent most of her time at practices on the sidelines watching or collecting stray volleyballs and putting them back in the cart. When she did get on the court to play, she said, Moore automatically gave the point to the other team if she did something well.
“He would claim that as soon as I stepped on the court and was involved in a play, something illegal was done and we lost the point,” Kevorken wrote. “If I ever scored a point, it was not because I did something right but because someone on the opposite side made a mistake. Never once was I praised for doing anything correctly. If I got a kill, the ball was always automatically called out of bounds, even when everyone knew it was very clearly in.”
Kevorken’s older teammates told her that it was a typical practice for Moore to choose one freshman to pick on.
“This man was cruel,” she said. “He used words like ‘pathetic’, ‘ridiculous’, ‘embarrassing’, ‘horrible’, ‘laughable’, and ‘stupid’ to describe me and my athletic ability.”
Kevorken said Moore forced her off the team after her first season. She described being called into Moore’s office and being told “You can’t stay here,” followed by, “It’s obvious that you don’t belong here. You are nowhere near good enough to play here and you never will be.”
“I felt like I was five years old and desperately wanted my mom to be here by my side with me and make this all better,” Kevorken wrote. “But I was alone. I felt so alone and destroyed.”
Kervorken left the team and joined Loyola Marymount University in 2014, while Crittenden asked for — and was granted — a release at the end of the 2015 school year. She now plays for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Crittenden said the purpose of her letter is not to “bash coaches,” but to tell the story she had previously kept quiet and encourage others to do the same. She said it’s time for athletic departments to stop being negligent when athletes come forward to them.
“I want other athletes who may be suffering in silence to know that their feelings are valid, their words are valid, and their stories matter,” she wrote.
Haylee Roberts, Canace Finley, Chloe Buckendahl and Maddie Magee were the other four players whose names and signatures appeared at the bottom of the letter to Schill and Mullens.
“We can rest easier knowing that the former coaches are no longer in a position to negatively impact young athletes and we no longer feel ashamed to identify ourselves as former Oregon Ducks,” they wrote.
Jonathan Hawthorne is also an author of this story.
Follow Kenny Jacoby on Twitter @kennyjacoby