OU women's basketball head coach Sherri Coale and Athletics Director Joe Castiglione responded in a press release Sunday night to former player Gioya Carter's criticism of the coach.
Carter tweeted Friday during OU head football coach Lincoln Riley and the Sooners' march on campus, a demonstration against police brutality, and bashed Coale's leadership when it came to advocating for racial equality. Former Sooner guard T'ona Edwards and forward Ijeoma Odimgbe backed Carter up on social media as well.
I wish I knew what it felt like to have a head coach at OU like this but instead my 4yrs there was filled with comments like. “You guys act like it happened to you.” “If y’alls long braids hits one of my players in the face” as if the ppl in braids weren’t her players. https://t.co/nU3VTVI2Q3— Gioya Carter (@GioyaCarter25) August 28, 2020
Coale responded with an apology Sunday night, saying, "it is clear that there have been moments where my intent has not been the same as my impact."
“To hear the concerns raised by my former student-athletes is disheartening, because it is clear that I have unknowingly caused harm to people I care deeply about," Coale said in the statement. "Over my career, I have taken pride in the work that I have done on the court and the commitment to the personal growth of the women I’ve been responsible for leading. While I have always had the intent of expressing care for others, it is clear that there have been moments where my intent has not been the same as my impact – for that, I sincerely apologize.
"For several years, I’ve made a concerted effort to educate myself and my players about how we can, together, create and sustain an environment in which all feel welcome and at home – a part of our women’s basketball family. While our past and present efforts in support of inclusion are ones I am proud of, I also know I should not assume that our learning and growth is ever finished. I am committed to working with my staff and my players toward continual growth. I want to ensure that any of my words or actions reflect my values, and the love I have for my student-athletes is shown in the knowledge I impart on them every day. I will continue to work and to demonstrate my commitment to increasing awareness of and appreciation for diversity, equity, and inclusion in all its forms, and I will continue to represent that same commitment on behalf of Sooner Athletics and the University of Oklahoma.”
Castiglione said the the Athletics Department is continuing to look into the accusations and is "committed to listening."
“When these matters were raised by former members of the women’s basketball program, we were obviously concerned," Castiglione said. "Though we were unaware of the reported concerns of insensitivity in the women’s basketball program prior to the comments that were posted in the last few days, we are committed to listening.
"Throughout her 24 years of collegiate coaching, Coach Coale has demonstrated tremendous character and a consistent record of advocating for her student-athletes. I know Coach Coale – along with the rest of the women’s basketball program leadership – joins me in eagerly availing ourselves to further engage in these important conversations. We have avenues through which student-athletes can converse with coaches, administrators or confidentially and anonymously with our team of sports psychologists any time they want to bring a concern to our attention, and we actively seek their input. My hope is that we can move forward and work together in building greater understanding as we constantly strive to be better.”
From 2013–2017, Carter played in 120 games under Coale, shooting 38.6 percent from the field and scoring 7.9 points per game in her OU career.