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Buffalo State Soccer Players File Coach Complaint

Brock Fritz

The Buffalo State College women’s soccer team had 11 players – about half the team – quit after the fall 2019 season.

The Buffalo News obtained a copy of a formal complaint the players filed against Buffalo State head coach Nicholas DeMarsh. The complaint described DeMarsh, who has spent 18 years as the coach at the State University of New York school, as “unprofessional, hurtful and ultimately detrimental to one’s mental health and self-confidence.”

DeMarsh was still the head coach as of Friday, but Buffalo State athletic director Jerry Boyes is conducting an investigation into the 16 instances cited in the complaint.

“We have heard these student-athletes and are taking their concerns seriously,” Buffalo State’s vice president for student affairs Timothy Gordon said in a statement to The Buffalo News, noting the investigation began earlier this month. “Student-athlete welfare and academic success are the top priorities of our athletic department. The complaints shared by members of the women’s soccer program are most certainly disturbing and describe an environment that is not aligned with our institution’s values. … We have heard these student-athletes and are taking their concerns seriously.”

According to The Buffalo News, the players that quit alleged that DeMarsh singled out and embarrassed a player; held personal grudges against players who stood up to him; mocked players’ dietary restrictions; told a crying, injured player she was “unprofessional” and “needs to keep it together;” allowed two players to fight on the bench; recommended a player stop playing after he diagnosed her with anxiety and depression; and told a player seeking medical attention for a concussion, “sometimes we just shouldn’t go to the trainers.”

Buffalo State compiled a 6-11-1 record this fall, including a 3-6-0 record in the State University of New York Athletic Conference, and ended the season with a 2-0 loss at Oswego on Oct. 26.

DeMarsh, a 1996 graduate of Buffalo State and an All-SUNYAC men's soccer player, is a three-time SUNYAC Coach of the Year and the all-time winningest coach in program history. He spent three years as an assistant coach for the men’s team prior to accepting the women’s head coaching job in June 2002. He led the Bengals to their first SUNYAC Championship and NCAA Championship appearance in 2016, winning a school-record 17 games in going 17-1-3.

AJ Haase, a current member of the women's soccer team, told Brandon Lewis of Spectrum News that she supports DeMarsh.

"I ultimately hope that Coach Nick will stay as the head coach of our team and that this won't affect our program so we can be successful next season," Haase said, noting that the issues began last season, when several players went out drinking the night before a game. "There was no turning back after that, it was girls on one side and girls on the other side and one side decided that they didn't like Coach Nick and they wanted him gone."

The investigation is ongoing, with Gordon announcing Monday that men's soccer coach Francesco Cardillo will oversee the women's program while an outside investigator reviews the situation.

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