Northern Kentucky University women's basketball coach Camryn Whitaker had been told in recent performance reviews to be more positive with her players, but it wasn't enough to deter the athletic department from extending her contract through 2021.
The Cincinnati Enquirer obtained the performance reviews under Kentucky's Open Records Act. The paper also sought any Title IX complaints on file, but the university refused that request, given that
Weeks after the 2018-19 season ended, several former players and parents accused Whitaker of being emotionally abusive and a bully throughout her time at NKU, which dates back to 2016. They described a "toxic environment' of intimidation, manipulation and humiliation" that included frequent verbal attacks of players' characters in interviews with The Enquirer. The university announced an independent review of the program in April.
In her first year with the Norse, Whitaker needed to improve "working with individual student-athletes and their issues and recognizing each student-athlete is motivated by different techniques and she needs to find what motivates them," athletic director Ken Bothof wrote in the 2017 review. He said he is "confident in our future and looks forward to working with Camryn to develop this program to become a Horizon League Championship in the future."
The second year, Bothof wrote that Whitaker needed to improve exercising "appropriate behavior at all events and practices," "keeping emotions intact after difficult losses," and "developing a positive approach to player/coach interaction," The Enquirer reported.
Bothof also noted in the 2018 review that Whitaker needed to be a more "positive role model for the student-athletes" and better balance "when parents view their student-athletes struggling as to whether this is a 'playing time' issue or a coach/player relationship issue." Whitaker, who did not provide comments on her first review, responded to the second by writing, "During the season, specifically toward the end I became much more positive and tried to be more consistent in my demeanor in practice and in games with the team."