Purdue-Fort Wayne Coach Facing Abuse Allegations

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Purdue University at Fort Wayne women’s basketball coach Niecee Nelson is facing allegations of emotional abuse and bullying.

Last week’s Indianapolis Star exclusive reported that 14 players, six parents, an assistant coach and an athletic trainer made allegations against Nelson in a 71-page document sent to Purdue University officials last May.

"The number of girls and parents that are coming out, it just doesn’t stop. The injury to these kids is untold," said Martin Greenberg, an attorney hired by the players and parents. "I convinced two girls not to commit suicide. That's how painful this was."

The Indianapolis Star, which received a copy of the document in October, reported that the players, parents and staff members are demanding an independent investigation due to allegations that include NCAA violations along with mental and physical abuse.

Nelson, who was hired on April 18, 2016, denied the allegations in a statement to the Star.

"While I respect these women and their right to speak out, I deny that I have ever physically, mentally or emotionally abused any player in our program," Nelson wrote. "I fully understand my obligations as a coach and as an educator to provide the services that these student athletes require to keep them physically and mentally healthy."

Former athletic trainer Chelsea Driver, who was hired in 2015, said she had mental issues due to things Nelson asked her to do, including pressuring her to seek Lidocaine for a player’s sprained ankle and asking her for an excuse to kick a player off the team. Driver resigned in February 2017 and is now an athletic trainer at Bryant & Stratton College in Buffalo, NY.

The document alleges that three former Purdue-Fort Wayne players have been referred to mental health services for self-harming behaviors, while 14 players and as many as four coaches have left the program or been forced out in the past three years.

"She's a master manipulator and abuser. I will give her that," said Jeanie Hughes, the mother of former player Jazzy Hughes, who transferred to Colorado State-Pueblo last summer. "She slowly does these things that just creeps into your world and destroys it."

Nelson, 41, was placed on administrative leave in February 2019 after an anonymous source made allegations of abuse. A university investigation into that allegation found no abuse.

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