Posted in News, Top News

Men’s basketball coach Virgil Hill resigns amidst allegations of misconduct

“It's just such a horrible atmosphere,” says former player

Virgilstory
Image Credits: Lisa Dimyadi

A number of former players who are departing SFU’s Men’s Basketball team have come forward with allegations against former Head Coach Virgil Hill. Hill resigned from his position earlier today.

SFU Athletics announced Hill’s resignation in a press release written by Steve Frost, Sports Information Director, less than a year after he was officially announced as SFU’s men’s basketball coach. He took over on April 15, 2015 after the resignation of former Head Coach James Blake.

Athletics Director Theresa Hanson said in a press release, “Virgil and I met to review and evaluate the basketball season and at that time he informed me that he has decided to resign his position as men’s basketball coach to spend more time with his young family.” Hill’s decision comes on the heels of several allegations against him, originating from several players who left the team this semester.

One of the players who left the team with four games remaining in the season spoke to The Peak about why he left. “It’s just such a horrible atmosphere. Losing never helps, but the coaching staff just does not look out for us.” The player asked to remain anonymous.

The “losing” to which the player refers is likely SFU’s results on the court. The team went 2–24 on the season, and 1–19 in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. The team went through a 18-game losing streak, and got its first and only conference win on February 11 against Concordia University.

The player alleged that in one instance, the coaching staff did not provide the team with meals while on an away game. According to him, “Before Sonoma State, we passed around a XL bag of peanut M&M’s before we played, and that was the only thing we had eaten before a 2 p.m. game.”

A second player who wished to remain anonymous corroborated the first’s account. “It’s true,” the second player said. “We [were] told we would stop somewhere and then we just went straight to Sonoma. They told us to go to the locker room and just put a bag of M&M’s on the desk.”

Denver Sparks-Guest, one of the seven players who departed this season, said his reason for leaving was “100 percent coaching,” saying that “there was no other reason.”

The first anonymous put particular emphasis on Hill’s behaviour towards Pape Seck, a player from Senegal, recounting comments made about Seck’s language ability and religious beliefs.

“Losing never helps, but the coaching staff just does not look out for us.”

According to the player, those comments included, “‘Virgil countless times said things such as ‘this isn’t a language barrier, it’s a stupidity barrier,’ ‘my 10-year-old son is smarter than you,’ ‘you didn’t play in junior college, you haven’t played here, you’ll never play anywhere.’ He called him an idiot and retarded plenty of times.”

The second anonymous player also corroborated the first’s allegations of “[Pape] being called out in that manner” by Hill.

The first player added: “Ultimately the worst incident was when Virgil said to me in his office when it was just him and I [. . .] ‘Pape can pray eight times a day but he can’t make it to practice. . . His Muslim faith doesn’t fit in here in this culture.’”

The Peak reached out to coach Hill for his comments on the amount of players leaving the team. He provided the following statement: “Players and programs part ways for various reasons and we are no different. I wish the departed players the best of luck with the remainder of their collegiate careers.”

When asked to comment on specific allegations, Hill declined.

Seck said that he was “not comfortable” in practice and stopped practicing with coach Hill as a result. “It was more of the way he acted, [he was] not respectful,” he said. “You can’t take a high school coach [and bring him] to the NCAA. He’s not a good coach, he has to learn to talk to men.”

The first anonymous player also stated that people within SFU Athletics were aware of allegations against Hill. “Kelly Weber, Laura Reid, [and] the athletic director Theresa Hanson all know.”

Sparks-Guest stated that he talked to an unspecified Athletics Director before his departure, and Seck said that he “talked to Laura [Reid]” within SFU Athletics.

Athletics Director Theresa Hanson said that “I am aware of some challenges within our men’s basketball program. I was not aware of all of the allegations that you have brought forward. I am disturbed by them. It is unfortunate that student athletes from our men’s basketball program have had a negative experience.”

The announcement came after The Peak contacted SFU Athletics to provide comment on the allegations made against him the day before. It is unclear if these allegations factored into his resignation.

Frost in the press release added that, “The search for a new head coach of the SFU men’s basketball program will begin immediately.”

“I would like to thank Simon Fraser University for the opportunity to come back and coach at my alma mater,” said Hill in an official press release by SFU Athletics.

“At this time I am tendering my resignation. This decision was a difficult one as I wanted to bring this program back to a level of competitiveness that we know is possible. My decision is based on the needs of my young family and my need to support my wife in raising our children.”

  • Robert Scott

    It’s been obvious for a long time that Virgil doesn’t know how to coach at that level. His time at Laurentian was filled with losing seasons. What made him qualified for this job is a mystery.

  • Anom

    Virgil Hill is a terrible coach period!!! He lacks all the intrinsic values a basketball coach needs. When I played for him he undermined players, played favourites, created a negative environment and back stabbed. I have experienced all the same things that I have read in this article from Virgil. Matthew Brown and Virgil stroked their egos and backed each other up because they were both underachievers and insecure. The truth always rises to the top Virgil! You should not be a coach trust me!

    • Matthew Brown

      Geez, lol. So personal Mr. Anom. The reality is when I played for Virgil, he called me stupid and lazy many times. I did go crying to the AD. It’s college hoops man. Lol

      • Anonymous

        Yeah, maybe a little much? LOL

        • Matthew Brown

          Lol yes, you might have some anger still left from your days at LU. Btw, that was over 10 yrs ago. lol

    • Rob Fulford

      Hello Anom. Do you have a boo-boo on your knee and need your ass kissed and coddled by your mommy and daddy? I would be happy to play some one on one with you any day and see what kind of person you really are. Of course you would never identify yourself or step up and act like a decent student-athlete or human being. Better to cast some stones from your glass house. The truth will rise and no doubt in your life you will be buried under it and unable to cope. Good luck on your continued anonymous and pathetic existence.

      • Anom

        no seriously Virgil does not treat people well and is not mature enough to be a HC. He would be better as an AC. Coach lost us all in the first few months but I did not quit on him. On the personal stuff Mom and Dad gave me a good upbringing but I worked, paid off my own student loans and life is well Thank you. Have you played for coach? If so what was your experience?

  • Anonymous

    I have been close to the program for about 4 years now and was very
    curious as to how this hire would pan out all year long. My scepticism
    proved to be true. The notion that the players weren’t good enough is
    childish and runs parallels with the entire nature of this program.
    James Blake recruited well and had a couple D1 bouncebacks, Gairey was a
    true freshman who if they would have won games would most certainly
    have been the GNAC Freshman of the Year, and their best player was a Top
    100 JUCO transfer and had offers from 4-5 D1’s before coming to SFU.
    The bottom line is the coaches were way in over their heads and had no
    idea what the hell it takes to compete and run a program outside of
    Canada. They would struggle at the HIGH SCHOOL level in the U.S.

    Coach
    Hill preached keeping the recruiting and talent going forward to
    Canadians and BC/Ontario mainly. We should be thankful he is gone
    considering the program would have become even worse talent-wise if he
    was running the show. (Notice how all I have even mentioned was
    basketball-related… This all is paired with his completely
    low-character, insecure style as a human being and treating others with
    disrespect) Barkeley leaves and immediately gets an offer from nearly
    every school on the west coast and as for Gairey I can’t wait to see the
    rest of his career wherever he ends up!

  • Anonymous

    I have been close to the program for about 4 years now and was very curious
    as to how this hire would pan out all year long. My skepticism proved to be
    true. The notion that the players weren’t good enough is childish and runs
    parallels with the entire nature of this program. James Blake recruited well
    and had a couple D1 bouncebacks (if Virgil even knows what those are), Gairey
    was a true freshman who if they would have won games would most certainly have
    been the GNAC Freshman of the Year, and their best player was a Top 100 JUCO transfer
    and had offers from 4-5 D1’s before coming to SFU. he bottom line is the coaches
    were way in over their heads and had no idea what the hell it takes to compete
    and run a program outside of Canada. They would struggle at the HIGH SCHOOL
    level in the U.S.

    Coach Hill preached keeping the recruiting and talent going forward to
    Canadians and BC/Ontario mainly. We should be thankful he is gone considering
    the program would have become even worse talent-wise if he was running the show.
    (Notice how all I have even mentioned was basketball-related… This all is
    paired with his completely low-character, insecure style as a human being and
    treating others with disrespect). Numerous occasions where I spoke with Virgil
    he would belittle me and the players on the team acting as if he was so
    disadvantaged with this set of players and none of it could possibly be his
    fault. Burnaby mountain has a lot of trouble when it comes to athletics in the
    big-boy sports that the NCAA is really all about. CIS should welcome them back
    with open arms. As for Barkeley, according to compliance at SFU, he was granted
    withdrawals from both semester this year due to his concussion and the
    situation at hand. By the way, he leaves and immediately gets an offer from
    nearly every school on the west coast and as for Gairey I can’t wait to see the
    rest of his career wherever he ends up! Two players the Clan finally had to use
    and build around and they’re both gone!

    • Matthew Brown

      I have to admit, very well put. Great info. In the end, one year (less than) is not long enough to make such a decision. Coaches yell at players that’s what happens. Your position on what should have been and what could have been is speculation. Lots of kids get highly recruited out of HS and don’t pan out. That is a fact. The overlying point is we are letting unhappy players runnout coaches!!! Any program who has a change in leadership will have players leave for many reasons….. Roles change, playing time decreases, player gets recruited over, and the such.

      Just too quick of a trigger…..

      • Anonymous

        I would absolutely agree it would be too quick of a trigger if it were based strictly off basketball reasons. But I think the outside issues surrounding the players, especially Mr. Seck that surfaced were too much to ignore. For this reason, I think it’s the right call. But I do agree with you 100% that one year is not long enough to diagnose what needs to be done or get the program turned around. In all honesty, Blake shouldn’t have even been “parted ways with”, the record of the program went up each year he was there in the NCAA, finally showing some competitiveness and getting great recruits like Sango and even Barkeley who originally signed under Blake.

        • Matthew Brown

          Again, well articulated.

  • Anom

    It easy to know the game and teach the fundementals of basketball. But that does not make a good coach at a high level. The qualities great coaches have are their interpersonal skills and deep strong virtues. Virgil lacks these skills. He is too obvious about playing favourites to a few of his best players and insulting his other players.
    MOST IMPORTANTLY THESE ARE NOT THE FIRST 7 PLAYERS TO QUIT ON HIM THE REAL NUMBER IS MORE LIKE 30-40.
    There are many people out there who have gone through what these guys are going through right now. Their student/athlete experience ruined and they were verbally and emotionally abused instead. That does not mean they could not take a harsh coach. What Virgil does is not acceptable. His favourites will not understand any of this. Virgil never figured out that he should have worked and got the most out of the players in front of him instead waiting for some phenom. VIRGIL I HOPE YOU ARE READING THIS. THOSE GUYS GO TO BIGGER SCHOOLS ON FULL SCHOLARSHIPS NOT TO SUDBURY!

  • lostplayer11

    As a player who came to SFU and left, I am not hear to throw shade on Virgil, I don’t think he did a good job coaching wise, but Steve was just as bad of a person in the way he treated us. I would Really like last years coaching staff to be back in all honesty. Coach Blake, the McKay brothers and Jamie were great. If Virgil had to go for the stuff he said so should Hanson.

    • SFU should hired an experienced Coach who has a proven track record of recruiting and has understanding of what it takes to win at D2 level. Hire the best Head Coach they can. Quality person, great coach, great recruiter and fund raiser. Don’t worry if he is Canadian citizen or not.

  • HoopGuy

    SFU’s Athletic Department needs to take just as much responsibility with this as the Coach or Coaches. In the NCAA, Men’s Basketball and Football are the hiarchy of sport and as witnessed, both programs struggled and have been struggling. More money, marketing and implementing school sport spirit and connection with the student body(30,000+) is what is needed to see the program develop into a competive one in the GNAC. Hill and staffs hands were tied, recruiting wise, funding wise, etc. Why are those questions not being asked? Yes, Hill was inexperienced and his methods may not have been the greatest in regards to his Coaching demeanour but the challenge of truly not having but 3-5 real player’s that could compete night in and out in one of the better conferences in NCAA D2 didn’t help. There was some progress if you watched games. With the talent they had, they had 9 games in conference lost by no more then 10-12 pts. They led at half time in 12 conference games. Imagine he was able to recruit other player’s such as Gairey like as stated, would have easily won GNAC Freshmen of the Year with some wins, or was able to recruit some solid JUCO prospects like Barkeley and maybe pick up some size with a D1 transfer or two??? Was he enabled in that aspect by the AD? He had a solid BC product in Pankratz who showed signs of being special as well, so if able to add pieces similar to like the football program was able to do this season, with its best recruiting class in years, who knows what could have happened. From what I heard, that was the star freshmen , Gairey’s main concerns, the focus on bettering Basketball. Recruiting, accessibilities to facilities, training, etc and none of those answers could be given. As much as Hill may not have been prepared, maybe even helping him by hiring an NCAA experienced assistant, which there are many. Every
    other program has at least 3 assistants, SFU 1 really in Hanson who is good for local recruiting but an NCAA presence is what is needed here. Without it…its going to be very difficult for even solid recruits to want to be a part of this.

  • KPaulley

    This is crazy, I could not imagine losing my job because a couple of disgruntled players made allegations about things said at practice. Coaches are not suppose to be your friends, they need to get the best out of you and help you develop as a person and a player. We need to stop empowering these kids and hold them accountable for their actions. I see no mention of these players asking to meet with the coach to discuss the atmosphere. No they made cowardly anonymous allegations that once released seem to just automatically become facts. This is bullshit, and seems to speak to the character of these players. Putting the losing record on the coaching staff in its first yr is also bs, give them a chance to recruit and build a program. I had some great coaches say some horrible things to me in practice however I knew they were riding me because they saw potential in me, and you know what…I busted my ass so that next practice they would not have an opportunity to call me stupid!! Just to be clear – I knew they did not think I was stupid, but they did know that I had the drive to prove them wrong…
    My take away from all this is that entitled kids with little to no work ethic got their way again…nice lesson for them to learn!!!

    • Rob Fulford

      Well said KPaulley. Motivation and preparation occurs in a variety of different ways in the sports arena and in life. These anonymous players are not grade school kids, they are adults and certainly should act like it. SFU Athletics has only reinforced that there is no long term vision or fair treatment of a fellow professional and alumnus. I would call out anyone who posts unproven, anonymous comments. I won’t sink to their levels and use the words that should be associated with such behaviour.

  • Rob Fulford

    Well said KPaulley. Motivation and preparation occurs in a variety of different ways in the sports arena and in life. These anonymous players are not grade school kids, they are adults and certainly should act like it. SFU Athletics has only reinforced that there is no long term vision or fair treatment of a fellow professional and alumnus. I would call out anyone who posts unproven, anonymous comments. I won’t sink to their levels and use the words that should be associated with such behaviour.

  • SFU Alum

    If we can bring in Coach Cameron Turner for Alaska Anchorage we can get this turned around very quick! He recruited the best guard in D2 to go to Alaska. He has great connections in Canada, overseas, and in Utah. And most of all he already knows the GNAC, he knows what teams run, what players do ect. I bet he can have us around 500 after next season! Please hire the right person for the job Theresa Hanson!

  • Brody Bishop

    Kids these days need to suck it up. period. One year in my opinion is not enough time. A new coach should have at least 5 years to make something happen. He didn’t even get to recruit how can we let kids dictate the outcome of a person credibility. Virgil will always be known now for this now due to some whinny players. I understand the team wasnt good which in turn makes the coach second guess everything. That’s fucken normal…Virgil was not given a fair chance and now has no job with a wife and three kids at home. Shameful…I’m out.

advertisement