ST. GEORGE, Utah - The women’s basketball coach at Dixie State University is under fire after three former players say they were forced off the team because of discrimination.
Current players say the allegations are a result of disgruntled players.
Austen Harris, Miranda Moore and Briana White say Women’s Basketball coach Catherria Turner routinely mistreated players and segregated the team.
Turner became the head coach in April 2013 after the previous coach was fired for NCAA violations.
Harris, Moor and White say it was a tough transition, with strict rules.
“You never knew what you could do,” Moore said. “We’d see one player do something, we’d do the same thing. But depending on who you are, you’d get in trouble for it.”
Harris said she was also publicly humiliated in front of the team because of her sexual orientation.
The three DSU students paint a picture of an authoritarian coach.
They each say they were ultimately dismissed for minor rule violations.
White said she was kicked off the team for wearing slippers after a game instead of team shoes.
“It’s just really crazy,” Harris said. “[Turner is] African American and we’re African Americans, that they would come at us in that type of way.”
Current team players paint a different picture, and say those allegations are completely false. They say, like any coach, Turner was tough on them, but it was because she expects players to give 110 percent.
“If you break those rules, which many of the players last year did, they have consequences,” said senior guard Taylor Maynes. “Whether [Harris, Moore and White] want to own up to those consequences or not, is their decision.”
Players also say Turner strives to know her players on a personal level, so she can help them succeed, which may be why she’s accused of delving into things like religion and sexual orientation, but players insist belittling didn’t happen.
“Nothing that has ever been said about her trying to hurt other people has ever been true,” said senior guard Kaylah Miller.
In a statement, a university spokesperson said: "Dixie State University, DSU Athletics and Assistant Utah State Attorney General Michael Carter, who is assigned as DSU legal counsel, conducted a thorough internal investigation and found there was no evidence of discrimination in the dismissal of Austen Harris from the Women’s Basketball team."
Administrators declined to further comment on the allegations due to Harris threatening legal action.
Ultimately the university gave Harris and the other girls back their athletic scholarship for this academic year.
Some are hanging up the jersey, choosing to focus on academics, but Harris said she’s prepared to take the case to court, because she believes she was forced out without reason.
“Hopefully make Dixie State listen,” said Harris of her decision to pursue legal action. “Because they haven’t been listening.”
Attempts to contact Coach Turner for comment were unsuccessful.