Volleyball Coach Fired Over Harassment

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The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


OSHKOSH - The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh quietly fired its longtime, highly successful men's club volleyball coach last year after an investigation concluded he sexually harassed a player, the USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin has learned.

After the university announced coach Brian "Lumpy" Schaefer had "stepped down to pursue other opportunities," Schaefer implied to the community that he was leaving voluntarily. The coach who replaced Schaefer at UW-Oshkosh - and supported the player who brought allegations against him - also spoke glowingly about Schaefer publicly.

Schaefer went on to do independent contract work with Pacesetter Sports, an organization that offers summer volleyball camps in Wisconsin, the Dakotas, Nebraska and Iowa. He coached at least one of those camps.

The 2015 "Coach of the Year" for collegiate Division 1 club volleyball also has since worked for the Wisconsin Volleyball Academy, which organizes competitive traveling teams, camps, leagues and private training for youths.

The allegations against Schaefer involved incessant sexually explicit texting, supplying alcohol to a player and then engaging in a game the player found "weird" when the player was intoxicated.

Documents about the sexual harassment allegations against Schaefer were obtained by the Journal Sentinel after a Winnebago County Circuit Court judge denied Schaefer's attempts to block their release and to force the university to more heavily redact them before sharing them publicly.

The UW System Board of Regents is trying to address employee departures related to sexual harassment with a proposed new personnel policy. That policy, which is expected to be enacted in a few months, would alert prospective public and private employers to substantiated sexual harassment claims if they do reference checks.

"Cases like this underscore the need for the new and revised HR policies currently being developed by the UW System," UW spokeswoman Heather LaRoi said Wednesday.

The policy changes were prompted by revelations earlier this year that a UW-Stevens Point administrator resigned while under investigation for sexual harassment, then landed the same job at UW-Eau Claire.

Schaefer coached the men's club team, but also coached women's volleyball during his 25-year career at UW-Oshkosh. The male player who accused Schaefer of sexual harassment said the former coach asked him to do "weird things," and asserted that he was harassed over several years.

Schaefer was employed by UW-Oshkosh from January 1997 through August 2017 but was placed on administrative leave with pay in May 2017 when the university launched an investigation into the accusations against him.

Investigative documents detail allegations that Schaefer regularly bought drinks for the male student who accused him and for other male volleyball players. He was accused of showing up at the victim's apartment with alcohol, uninvited, and asking the young man to play a game called "nut ball" when he was drunk.

The young man described "nut ball" as a game in which they would "throw the ball at each other very hard in an effort to hit each other in the groin." Schaefer exposed his penis once and asked the student to throw the tennis ball at him - an allegation Schaefer acknowledged was true in an interview with the investigator.

Facebook posts show Schaefer continued to work as a volleyball coach in different organizations following his departure from UW-Oshkosh, including as the 2017-'18 lead coach for one of the Wisconsin Volleyball Academy's boys teams.

In May, Schaefer posted on Facebook that he was a coordinator for Pacesetter Sports' volleyball camps.

Schaefer became well known for his success in coaching the UW-Oshkosh men's club volleyball team, winning a collegiate club Division I "coach of the year" award in 2015, the Advance-Titan reported.

After Schaefer was fired, UW-Oshkosh Assistant Chancellor and Director of Athletics Darryl Sims said the coach "stepped down to pursue other opportunities."

In addition to the student's complaint, documents released by the university show the young man initially talked about Schaefer's sexual harassment behavior with William Brydon, a high school teacher in Oshkosh and coach for a UW-Oshkosh men's volleyball club program.

In his own complaint to the university about Schaefer's behavior, Brydon said he encouraged the student to report the harassment to college officials and told him he would support him.

Following Schaefer's departure, Brydon was hired to fill the head coach position and to lead the volleyball program, according to posts on the volleyball club's website.

Brydon declined to comment for this story.

Schaefer did not respond this week to multiple requests for comment.

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August 30, 2018


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