Parents mull suing GW over softball coach

As the University continues its investigation into the conduct of softball coach Shaunte’ Fremin, a few parents said this weekend that they are considering taking legal action against GW for Fremin’s alleged physical and mental abuse of players.

“As a former coach, I know when things are being done properly you don’t end up with all the injuries that they had,” said Lynda Kirkland-Culp, the mother of freshman softball player Gabby Culp. “I think that (Fremin) was nave. Basically the coach made a number of mistakes that new coaches make and, when I look at that from that perspective in retrospect, the coach needed more supervision.”

The Hatchet has learned that athletic department officials have scheduled a 7 a.m. meeting Monday with the softball players as well as assistant coach Trena Peel at the Smith Center. Director of Athletics Jack Kvancz did not return phone calls from The Hatchet on Friday, but a decision on Fremin’s status is expected within the next few days.

One parent, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said his decision to pursue any legal action will be largely affected by how GW responds to the players’ allegations.

“My attorney has said that the professional thing to do is you give the administration the opportunity to handle the situation,” the parent said. “And if the administration handles it in a professional way, and right now they are, then you see what transpires from that … and then you make a determination.”

The parent also said he and other parents are looking into Fremin’s background to determine whether the University was at fault in hiring Fremin last August. The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported in 1998 that while Fremin was a softball player at Louisiana State University, her coach, Cathy Compton, was fired for the repeated verbal abuse of her players.

“(Compton) was into some mind games that left the players with no self confidence,” one LSU athletic department official told the Times-Picayune.

While no such conduct has been found in Fremin’s past, the University could still be liable for the coach’s alleged actions if they are proven true, GW law professor Roger Schechter said.

“Generally speaking, employers of any type are responsible for the action of their employees,” he said. “But … nobody can know if the University has any (liability) until we have a true sense of what the facts are.”

The softball team has been on an extended break since the GW Invitational on Feb. 28 and 29 due to multiple injuries. During the University’s investigation, the team has not had enough healthy players to take the field, forcing the cancellation of one doubleheader last week and two more this week.

Freshman Ashley Horner, who suffered a concussion in a game on Feb. 28 and, players allege, was told by Fremin how to hide the injury from doctors, has been at her family’s home in Pennsylvania recovering. Her father, Donnie Horner, said the outfielder was “released from her doctor’s care” on Thursday.

Jeff Howard, a spokesman for the NCAA, would not comment directly on whether GW might face penalties for allegedly practicing beyond the 20-hour weekly limit.

“We don’t talk about the possibility of investigations,” he said. “If a major infraction is determined at any institution, then it will go to the committee on infractions.”

Leslie Moore, who coached the Colonials in their inaugural 2003 season before leaving for the University of Pennsylvania, also declined to comment. Players said last week that Fremin forbade them from speaking to Moore this year, except for one player who was allegedly supposed to find out what Moore was saying about the GW softball program.

-Jeff Nelson and Gabriel Okolski contributed to this report from Washington. Alex Kingsbury contributed from New York.

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