UC Riverside Coach Resigns Amid Abuse Investigation

Paul Steinbach Headshot

Facing a second investigation into allegations that he was verbally and emotionally abusive to his players, University of California Riverside women's basketball coach John Margaritis resigned Friday, a day after being placed on unpaid leave.

Earlier this summer, the first investigation into the abuse allegations resulted in Margaritis serving a 20-day unpaid suspension.

As reported by ESPN, Seyram Bell, the only assistant coach to survive Margaritis's 15-year stint at UC Riverside, will serve as interim head coach as the school launches a search for a permanent replacement.

Another UC Riverside assistant, Giuliana Mendiola, was let go this summer, prompting several former players to speak out in protest on social media and through various news organizations and call for further investigation into the women's basketball program. A petition on change.org in support of Mendiola had received 969 signatures as of 7 p.m. PT on Saturday, according to ESPN.

The dozen players contacted by Riverside Press-Enterprise independently confirmed the coach’s pattern of behavior. They said Margaritis frequently threatened to take scholarships away, body-shamed and insulted them during practices and marathon film sessions, and used personal information against them to get into their heads. They described late-night calls from the coach to harangue them about their ability, or their weight, or their lifestyles. They talked about the harshness with which Margaritis treated his assistant coaches, how he would berate athletic trainers and put pressure on injured athletes to get back on the court. They described his animus toward lesbian players.

Former UC Riverside player Inara Nyingifa told the Press-Enterprise on Friday that she thinks the school's athletic administration also needs to be held accountable.

"The administration that he was working for, and the administration that supported all he was doing, is still there," Nyingifa said. "So what's stopping the same thing from happening again, when the people who were supposed to hold him accountable are still there?

"I feel like it wasn't the athletic department that put pressure on him. It was everybody [telling] what happened in the past to the media that put pressure on the school. It got to the point where he realized the school was going to fire him if he didn't step down."

Page 1 of 465
Next Page
AB Show 2023 in Baltimore
AB Show is a solution-focused event for athletics, fitness, recreation and military professionals.
Nov 1-4, 2023
Learn More
AB Show 2023
Buyer's Guide
Information on more than 3,000 companies, sorted by category. Listings are updated daily.
Learn More
Buyer's Guide