SUNY Buffalo State has decided to retain its longtime women's soccer coach despite calls for his removal by a dozen members of last year's team.
As reported by The Buffalo News, the decision came after an independent investigation by a Syracuse-based law firm found no evidence supporting allegations that Nicholas DeMarsh mishandled the physical or mental well-being of his players, or that he violated any NCAA rules.
The controversy became public last fall when a dozen members of the Buffalo State women's soccer team left the squad at the end of the season and called for the removal of DeMarsh for being "unprofessional, hurtful and ultimately detrimental to one's mental health and self-confidence."
Allegations included singling out and embarrassing a player, holding personal grudges against players who stood up to him, and telling a player crying in pain that she needed to “keep it together,” The Buffalo News reported.
"While the independent program review by Bond, Schoeneck & King PLLC did describe an atmosphere that was inconsistent with our institution’s values, I believe we can chart a path forward together to ensure a positive and supportive environment for our student-athletes, while also striving for excellence on the field and in the classroom," Timothy Gordon, vice president for student affairs for the college, wrote in a letter to athletic department staff, as well as current and former members of the women's soccer team.
Investigators interviewed 33 people, including 25 members of the women's soccer team from 2018 and 2019, as well as DeMarsh, and were unable to find evidence to support the allegations.
"Every student-athlete needs to know that it is OK to speak up if you have concerns," Gordon wrote. "Myself and the leadership in the Athletic Department will continue to be a source of support for you."
DeMarsh, a Buffalo State alum, has posted a 147-149-40 record through 18 seasons at the school. However, since leading the team to 17-1-3 record in 2016, the Bengals have gone a collective 13-36-4.