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Dixie State: Women’s basketball program mired in controversy

Dixie State » Former players accuse first year coach Catherria Turner of discrimination as possible repercussions from separate NCAA probe loom.

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There was also an instance in which a school compliance officer found the team in the Burns Basketball Arena on the night of Nov. 6, 2013 taking shots. When asked about the drills, three players said their choice was to take 500 shots or participate in a study table session.

While Turner said the actions were voluntary, the school ruled otherwise and reprimanded the coach. As a result, the school has proposed in its letter to the NCAA that Turner be suspended for the first two games of the 2014-15 season, and preseason practice hours will be cut from eight to six hours per week with three mandatory days off instead of two. In-season practice hours will be reduced from 20 to 16 per week. The school has yet to receive a response from the NCAA, but the governing organization typically accepts such self-mandated restrictions from schools in response to violations.

At a glance

Dixie State overview

Catherria Turner was hired in April 2013 after the previous coach, Angela Kristensen, was fired for repeated NCAA violations.

Since Turner’s hiring, nine players either have been dismissed or left the team with some complaining of racial and sexual discrimination.

After an investigation found Turner may have committed NCAA violations, she likely will be suspended from coaching for the first two games of the 2014-15 season and her program will have fewer practice hours available.

About Catherria Turner

Hired in April 2013 as the Red Storm’s new coach

Spent the two previous seasons at Holy Names, compiling a 25-32 record

Also had assistant coaching stints at Portland, Maine and Simpson College

She began her college playing career at Oregon in 2001-02 then transferred to Oklahoma State

She earned a Bachelor of Science in Education at OSU in 2005

Tucson, Ariz., native

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As for the coach’s father, who former players portray as having a heavy influence on the program and their dismissals, he will not be allowed to work the summer camps nor will he be allowed to travel on any team buses or rentals or be allowed to interact with parents of current or potential athletes.

The actions were prompted by complaints via an anonymous letter that Stevie Turner’s trip with the team to Hawaii was paid for with team funds.

Boothe said an investigation showed no funds were used for Turner’s family, but the school went forward in setting restrictive guidelines for Turner’s father.

Boothe might be satisfied his school has taken the proper steps in disciplining Turner, but the former players don’t believe it is enough.

Harris said the coach’s father was instrumental in creating a hostile environment, yelling at players and shouting directives from the stands. She said he went so far as to tell her parents she and the other ‘sisters’ on the team were going to be removed.

"Come March we were all off the team," she said. "I get it if one or two players quit, but to have so many leave or get dismissed, it makes you wonder. But in the eyes of the administration, she can do no wrong. They dismissed every single thing."

Too controlling?

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The dismissed players accused the coach of being extremely controlling, such as questioning them whether they smoked marijuana, looking at text messages on their cell phones and having other players act as ‘spies.’

"We just wanted to play basketball," Woods said. "But she was so focused on being an authority figure and creating a lot of drama."

Harris, Woods and Moore all said they were written up for small things they didn’t consider worth disciplinary action, such as wearing the wrong shoes or sitting with family members between games, etc.

The worst, according to Harris, was a team meeting in which she was asked about her sexuality, Harris said.

"She would have these meetings she called ‘100 meetings’ where we discussed everything as a team," Harris said. "Instead of the two people who may be involved, she’d have everyone involved. It created a bad environment."

Turner said she did hold such meetings, but denied asking any player about her sexual orientation in front of her teammates.

"We’d already had a conversation about it and I knew she was gay so why would I ask?," Turner said. "I had others on the team who were gay, but that stuff doesn’t matter. It has nothing to do with it at all. If you work hard and can produce, you are going to play. It is going to be in my best interest to play the best players because I want to win."

‘She doesn’t deserve this’

Haley Holmstead, a senior who led the team averaging 23.5 points last year, backed her former coach and said Turner never directly asked the players their sexual orientation in a team meeting.

"She talked about the rules, that players couldn’t date other players and the same was for the coaches and managers," Holmstead said. "But she never discriminated against anyone. She was a good coach and she doesn’t deserve all this."

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