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A former St. Catharine College volleyball coach has been placed on paid administrative leave from Indiana University East.
The Indy Star reported last week that sexual harassment allegations were made against Adam Stevenson by players to school officials in April or May, but were dismissed after individual discussions with players.
Stevenson, who also serves as assistant AD for the Red Wolves, was placed on paid administrative leave on Oct. 28 in light of complaints made by some IU East players. According to former player interviews conducted by Kicks 96 radio in Richmond, Ind., allegations included that Stevenson videoed players from behind after instructing assistant coaches to leave the gym, mandatory hugs from each player at the conclusion of practice and touching players “in ways that made them uncomfortable.”
Two players were dismissed from the team prior to the announcement of Stevenson’s punishment, and two more players left the team to show their support for their teammates. According to the school athletic department’s website, the two dismissals were “made by the entire volleyball coaching staff and athletic department” and will “remain in place.”
“Two Indiana University East volleyball players have been dismissed from the team for conduct contrary to team expectations,” the site states. “Subsequently, two players have left the team. Any players no longer with the team will receive their release to compete elsewhere if they desire.”
Stevenson’s leave came with just three games remaining in the regular season of his first year with the Red Wolves, a reminder of his abrupt exit from SCC during the 2012 campaign.
Former SCC volleyballer Shelby Howard and her father, Paul, remember Stevenson’s time at the college grimly.
Stevenson arrived at SCC in 2010, with the Illinois native landing his first head coaching gig in the process. Shelby was a freshman during his inaugural campaign, and she said the coach’s treatment of his players led to her decision to leave the team following the preseason of her sophomore year.
The Howards said Stevenson’s over-bearing behavior included demanding access to each player’s Facebook page, showing up in the dorm facility at 10 or 11 p.m. at night and holding the team in the locker room for extended periods of time to discourage them from attending a school-sponsored dance or other athletic events.
“I know that when you go to college, they own you. They really do. You’re getting money and that’s what you’re supposed to focus on,” said Paul, who played basketball collegiately.
The real problems, however, began after Shelby left the team in 2011.
Just three days after Shelby’s decision to leave the volleyball team, she began to hear troubling news from former teammates about the way Stevenson handled the team’s inquiries about where their teammate was.
“He told them that they’re not allowed to say my name, and they were to refer to me as ‘moron’ or ‘idiot,’” Shelby said.
That’s when Paul said he met with Mike Doig, who was SCC’s athletic director at the time, and current AD Tom Bystrek, who was then the assistant AD. Paul said he used the initial meeting to express that he didn’t have any complaints, but that he didn’t want his daughter’s life “to be made miserable.”
That wasn’t the final run-in with Stevenson for the Howards, however.
In a later incident, Shelby received a Facebook post from a student assistant’s account that was deleted just moments later. Shelby checked her email notifications to find out what the post said, where she found an explicit comment that the Howards consider a clear case of bullying.
After speaking with the student assistant, Shelby soon discovered that Stevenson—in passing by the student’s open laptop—was responsible for the comment.
That’s when Paul said it was time for action to be taken.
After setting up a meeting with Doig and Stevenson, Paul said he wanted answers, but he didn’t like the ones he got.
“I started on him, trying to get him to admit to saying the thing about, ‘moron or idiot,’ but he would never admit to that,” Paul said.
According to Paul, however, Stevenson’s response to the Facebook incident was quite different.
“He admitted it. He admitted he did that,” Paul said. “He said, ‘I did it, but it was a joke. We were all doing it. We wanted to make her boyfriend jealous.’ When he admitted to it, I said to Mike (Doig), ‘Here’s the deal: He can resign tonight and I’ll leave it alone, or you fire him.’”
“He tried to (initially) deny the Facebook message, but that’s when I actually showed up and had it printed out,” Shelby added.
The Howards said Shelby was given time to speak with Stevenson, but she made it clear that conversation wasn’t what she was looking for out of the meeting.
“Basically, it was supposed to be like a big apology, which that wasn’t really what I wanted,” Shelby said. “I didn’t think an apology should cut it for (what he did) at all.”
Paul said Doig was adamant that he didn’t want to make a rash decision, and that a decision would take a few days. In the meantime, Paul set up another meeting, this time with Doig and SCC Vice-President Roger Marcum.
Paul said he pleaded for Stevenson’s removal from the program, but that he went more than a week without hearing anything following the meeting.
After visiting SCC once again to find out the final decision, Paul was told that disciplinary action had been taken, but that the college couldn’t share what that action was.
“As far as I know, he never missed a day of work or pay,” Shelby said. “Through (talking to) the other players, I think after the season he took a leave, but it was after the season was over.”
In a vacuum, Paul said the explicit message alone would have been bad enough, but that the other factors, including Stevenson’s explanation, fueled the Howards’ fire even more.
“Their student handbook states that no student is allowed to use their servers for harassment. It’s in their handbook and he did that,” Paul said. “Not only that, he posed as this other kid. He said it was to make the boyfriend jealous. You’re talking about causing a fight. It’s not just what he did, but the way he did it.”
On the court, Stevenson continued to coach, and with success, turning around a 7-31 Patriots team in his first season to post a 26-10 record in year two, including Mid-South Conference Coach of the Year honors. On the heels of such a successful season, the Howards each pointed out that the timing of Stevenson’s 2012 exit from SCC only raises more questions.
“He coached the year, won coach of the year in the conference and midway through the next year, he’s gone,” Paul said.
Paul, who coaches the freshman boys’ basketball team at Washington County High School, said the warning signs were there, because Stevenson overstepped his bounds even before his daughter quit the team in the 2011 season.
“You don’t have to put up with him in your dorm room and you don’t have to put up with him monitoring your Facebook. In the dorms at 10 or 11 at night? No, not with the girls. I wouldn’t even do that with my guys,” he said.
Shelby attended SCC for one semester after ending her volleyball career, before transferring to Western Kentucky University, where she currently attends.
(St. Catharine College did not respond to email and phone requests for comment on this story.)