An investigation by the University of Louisville found its men’s tennis coach bullied, discriminated against and mistreated his players, per a report Monday by the Louisville Courier Journal.
Rex Ecarma was fired by Louisville on Friday after 29 years with the school. In one instance, per the report, he said, “Whites are better than black people.”
Report: Ecarma treated players poorly
Ecarma put his players into poor situations and made discriminatory jokes in front of them. He pressured athletes to play through injuries, forced them to play outdoor in temperatures near freezing and made discriminatory jokes regarding players’ ethnicities and women, according to the records obtained by the Courier Journal.
Included in the report is Ecarma saying, “Whites are better than black people.” There was no context in the Courier Journal’s report.
"Coach Ecarma's behavior made the student-athletes and employees fearful of retaliation if they reported their concerns to him," the report said, via the Courier Journal.
The 2018-19 men’s tennis roster included players from Argentina, Colombia, Norway, Switzerland, England and France.
Ecarma fired after paid leave
Ecarma was fired by the school on Friday after being put on paid leave in June while the school reviewed “concerning allegations of your treatment of student athletes,” per a suspension letter.
Louisville athletic director Vince Tyra said in a statement Friday the school “determined that a change in leadership is needed.”
“We have been clear about our roles and expectations in providing our student-athletes an outstanding experience while a part of our program.
"The conclusion of an independent investigation into our men’s tennis program determined otherwise.”
Ecarma said in a statement to media Friday he was never told of any allegations and no one made a complaint to him about his behavior. He said the school was “showered with letters and calls of support for me.”
“I have always maintained the highest and most rigorous standards for myself. I care deeply for the players I’ve had the honor of coaching and mentoring.”
In a statement to the Courier Journal on Friday, Ecarma said he had been with the school “my entire adult life.” He first served as a ball boy, then played for the Cardinals from 1984-87. His current contract was to expire June 30, 2023, according to the Courier Journal, and he’ll be paid out. His base salary was a reported $150,000.
He has a 475-317-1 head-coaching record since 1991 with five conference championships and 12 NCAA regional appearances. His players totaled 16 NCAA individual title berths, split evenly between singles and doubles. The Cardinals achieved their highest Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) ranking in 2010 at 10th.
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