Field hockey players sue administrators, coach

Two Seton Hill University (SHU) field hockey players are suing their field hockey coach, Whitney Harness, for alleged abuse. In the lawsuit it describes instances of emotional, psychological and physical harm.

The lawsuit was filed on April 23 and alleges that the women were subjected to physical punishments during excessive training and public humiliation, which are direct violations of NCAA rules.

According to the lawsuit filed in Pittsburgh federal courts, one student was counseled for the alleged abuse by the university psychologist. The student was hospitalized after passing out during a practice from side effects of a medication she was taking. Afterwards, she was forced to run 3.1 miles. She was punished after not being able to complete the run and had to complete additional 100-yard sprints.

The second student has not publically stated why she is filing in the case.

Attorney Nancy McGee of Kew Gardens, N.Y. is representing the two students in the case. She has met with university officials last fall to solve the alleged problems; the coach still remains in her position.

Head coach Harness and assistants Gillian Hilbert and Joanna Pichardo, athletic director Christopher Snyder, interim president Bibiano Boerio, vice president of Affirmative Action Lois Sculco, NCAA compliance officer Bruce Ivory and Title IX compliance officer Darlene Sauers are named as defendants in the case.

In an article by the Tribune Review, SHU media spokesperson Jennifer Reeger said, “When Seton Hill learned of the alleged unprofessional and ineffective conduct in the fall 2013 semester, the university immediately began an investigation. As a result of that investigation, measures were taken to address the unprofessional and ineffective conduct.”

“While the investigation was closed, the administration continues to monitor the situation and work closely with the coaches and student-athletes involved,” Reeger continued.


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