25 Comments for this article

Tags: ,


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A UNC Wilmington women’s basketball player endured an extreme form of punishment this week under the supervision of an assistant coach.

Technically, practice at UNCW has not started yet, but the players are required to attend individual workout drills. Monday’s workout session apparently went a bit too far for one player.

Cynthia Cooper-Dyke, a Basketball Hall of Famer, was named head women’s coach at UNCW May 10. It’s been smooth sailing until this week when Seahawk guard Julia Finlay was forced to logroll non-stop the length of the basketball court at Trask Coliseum. Finlay threw up three times during the workout drill. Coach Cooper-Dyke was out of town during Monday’s workout, but assistant coach Johnetta Hayes was present.

WWAY has made multiple requests to interview Cooper, Hayes, Chancellor Rosemary DePaolo, Finlay and Athletics Director Kelly Mehrtens. The athletic department denied all those requests.

Mehrtens released a statement Tuesday night that admits a serious error in judgment was made by a member of the women’s coaching staff in regard to a rolling drill.

Coincidentally we talked with Finlay the day Cooper-Dyke was hired.

“I was just so happy,” Finlay said May 10. “She’s been my idol. I watched her when I was growing up. She’s my mom’s favorite player. I knew so much about her, so I was so excited.”

In her statement Mehrtens added the rolling drills will not be tolerated, and she hopes everyone will give the new staff the opportunity to move forward.

Jim Dallke is the editor & chief of “The Seahawk”. That’s the student newspaper on campus. WWAY’s John Rendleman talked with Jim on Wednesday.

Jim Dallke told John ” It’s frustrating. I think Seahawk fans and Seahawk students are looking for something to cheer for”. Dallke says there’s been more negative media attention since the hiring of two high-profile coaches (Cythina Cooper-Dyke and Buzz Peterson)than expected. In the men’s program there have been multiple departures and academica eligibility issues.

“Another incident like this is discouraging to Seahawk students,” Dallke said. “I’m sure Cynthia Cooper didn’t want to start out at UNCW like this. You may remember she had some recruiting violations when she coached at Texas A&M Prarie View and now we’re talking about something that involves the endangerment of a student athlete. This is definitely discouraging for UNCW athletics.”

” Is this something that will catch the attention of the NCAA?,” asked Rendleman.

” We’ll see, sometimes something like this is not a terrible thing with the NCAA because that’s how we correct our problems and that’s how we get things fixed. It’ll be interesting to see if the NCAA picks this up, but for the sake of UNCW athletics it’ll be better to keep this within the university.”

Rendleman added ” You and I both know official practice starts in October, but Kelly Mehrtens in her statement Tuesday night called the incident a basketball practice incident.”

” Right,” Dallke said. “Definitely when you’re the athletics director you have to be careful with your word choice. Using the word “practice” before October 15th is something that’s pretty iffy and definitely something that should be looked at by people within the university and we need to make sure they’re not doing full practices and that these are only workouts. It’s definitely a word choice Kelly Mehrtens, if she could, would probably take back.”

Mehrtens used the word “practice” when referring to Monday’s workout session. NCAA rules don’t allow actual practices until mid-October. Wednesday’s statement & Tuesday’s statement are both posted below:


Statement from Kelly Mehrtens, UNCW Director of Athletics (released Wednesday 9-22-2010)

Dr. Sue Combs, our faculty athletics representative, and I have spent many hours today gathering additional information about the incident that occurred following Monday’s practice by the women’s basketball team. As mentioned previously, the drill in question will not be tolerated and will never happen again in our program.

The issue has been addressed with the employee and appropriate disciplinary action has been taken. Due to university policy and state law, I am unable to comment further.

Once again, we are very sorry that this happened. Coach Cooper-Dyke remains committed to having our program represent UNCW and the community in the best possible way, and we ask for your continued support of our student-athletes and teams.


UNCW Athletics Director Kelly Mehrtens statement on practice punishment incident:(released Tuesday 9-21-2010)

“I asked Dr. Sue Combs, our faculty athletics representative, to work with me to gather information concerning an incident that occurred following Monday’s practice by the women’s basketball team. I have determined that a serious error in judgment was made by a member of our women’s basketball coaching staff with the implementation of a rolling drill.

“The well-being of our student-athletes is always first and foremost in our minds. I have spoken to the student-athlete involved with the incident and have assured her that this will never happen again.

“While Coach Cooper-Dyke was out of town recruiting and not present, she nevertheless regrets that this occurred and remains committed to running our program with the utmost character.

“We are very sorry that this happened. These types of drills will not be tolerated. I hope everyone will give our new staff the opportunity to move forward as we approach the new season.

“Dr. Combs has agreed to convene a group to determine any action steps necessary to make sure that this doesn’t happen again within our athletic program.”

Finlay averaged 2.3 points per game last year for the Seahawks.

Photo courtesy UNCW Athletics

Comment on this Story

  • SurfCityTom

    but what did the young lady do to merit the “punishment”?

    Now the AD took the fall, in part, because she referred to the incident as a “training camp” incident. NAACP regs allow individual player sessions prior to training camp. But “training camp” itself can not commence before 10/15.

    So just what did the young lady do? And if she had a leg injury, should she have been subject to individual player sessions or log rolling?

  • CM

    I can tell you one thing from having attended UNCW for my BA and MA, and from working for the school for many years: They will not tolerate this sort of abuse and there will be severe ramifications. The school is notoriously tight-lipped when it comes to the public and the media (I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing) but trust me, behind the scenes, all hell is breaking loose. Say what you want about the administration at UNCW, but I can tell you from first hand experience that they put the students first and are very protective of them. As for those who would argue the girl should just “suck it up” I would like to point out that there is an immense difference between hard work and legitimate exercise on one hand and abuse and humiliation on the other.

  • Guestoo

    How about all of the folks that see nothing wrong with this type of “punishment” suck it up and get their arses to a basketball court? Don’t wear nice clothes, you’re going to be doing a little log-rolling! Please don’t eat too much beforehand though. Didn’t do anything wrong you say? Interesting, how can you blow off this type of “punishment” if you haven’t tried it? Oh, yeah. Make sure there are players on the court while you’re doing laps!

    There are far better ways to discipline someone, get the point across and not humiliate them than this. Perhaps the proper discipline for the assistant coach would be to do a little log-rolling herself? Maybe 45 minutes just to prove it isn’t so bad? Time it while the Bobcats are here too! How cool would that be?

  • Guest

    I think that the punishment this young athlete had to perfom was terrible. She is not in the arm forces, she is a junior basketball player, who was treated with disrespect.

    I think that the assistant coach should be fired, ASAP.

  • Guest

    “Due to university policy and state law, I am unable to comment further.”

    I would like to know specifically what university policy and specifically what state law prohibits this publicly paid person from specifically commenting on specifically what happened.

    This kind of response from public employees is getting out of hand.

  • Some People

    It’s amazing that this type of punishment is going on. To all those that think nothing was done wrong here are crazy especially the person comparing this to the Texas A&M issue with Craig. In that case the coach was fired without merit. This is totally different and it’s amazing that the assistant coach who gave this punishment is facing undisclosed disciplinary action.

    The AD’s main concern is the coaches with this type of punishment and not the student athlete who’s punishment was way over the line.

    It’s time for Kelly Mehrtens to be shown the door out of Wilmington. She should take the women’s head basketball coach along with the assistant coach.

    It’s crazy to see Mike Leach from Texas A&M get fired and to see this assistant get a slap on the wrist.

  • Guest

    This kind of crap is how you kill someone. My daughter was being recruited by UNCW for basketball before Coach Hancock was let go. The only way my kid plays for UNCW is if there is a coaching change. Discipline is one thing, but rolling up and down the court for 30 minutes. Why don’t you make her shoot free throws for 30 minutes. I don’t see much log rolling in basketball. If you have the ball that’s called traveling. Coach Cooper and her staff needs to go. All this run and gun style of ball, she says she’s going to play. It’s called undisciplined street ball. Plus, she had recruiting violations at her previous coaching stint. Another hiring blunder by UNCW.

  • Guest9999

    While the incident has not been properly identified to us, the general public and taxpayers pay for the facility, coach salary and perks the education of the player. There is a need to know. If this would have been a black player/white coach I can assure you that the NAACP would have been screaming for an open investigation and a firing!!

  • PatB

    I’m not defending how the coach handled this situation, but what does race have to do with this? Don’t you think we’re blowing this out of porportion?

  • PatB

    Give me a Break! You sound like a disgruntle parent that is upset because the coaches are not recruiting your daughter, because she can’t play a “run and gun style of basketball”. It’s obvious you don’t know a whole lot about basketball, because there are set plays that allow getting the ball up the court and scoring quickly. Is it “undisciplined street ball”, because these coaches are African-American? Was it “undisciplined street ball” when Benny Moss was trying to play a fast-paced bball game?

    Cynthia Cooper and her staff have the credentials, let them coach and send your daughter to ECU to play for Ann Hancock.

  • Guest

    According to the Star News. The player had to lie down and do log roles up and down the court roughly a dozen times for about 30 minutes. I guess she threw up a couple times and everybody’s freaking out.

    Big deal, don’t get kicked out of practice and you won’t have to disciplined. Get tough, geez, this is why women’s sports will never be very successful in America.

  • Guest

    Well I guess this means the tough people out there could roll up and down the length of a basketball court for 30 minutes and not be ill. I’d like to see you do it.

  • Guest1234

    What was she being punished for? Why should she be forced to roll
    on the floor for 30 minutes? I would be mad too, if I were forced to
    do that–in front of the guys? Yes, I would most certainly be mad! Especially if I threw up! And she was hurt to begin with? Not a nice thing to do to somebody.

  • Guest461

    This news reporting is similar to the helicopter pilot of the sherrifs department. An “incident” occurred. This “incident” will never happen again. “We are very sorry ‘this’ happened…” WHAT happened?

    If we don’t know what the “incident” is, why take the time to report it just to have readers scratching their heads? Perhaps these are secret “incidents”. Maybe they are “incidents” that really weren’t “incidents”, someone just thought it was one and decided to write a news story about it.

    How incidental, or would that be…coincidental?

  • Guest7969

    this sounds like a bunch of gir…OH WAIT…Nevermind…GIVE ME A BREAK!!! BIG BABIES!

  • Guest61246

    So…a female basketball player threw up, so what? Happens all the time. Visit downtown Wilmington when the bars let loose. Must not be too bad, as they are are at it again the next night. This is hardly news.

  • Guest

    First of all it is not just a basketball player that threw up from being sick or overheated in practice. You should really get all the details before commenting. It is a girl who was forced to endure inhumane punishment by having her roll in her own vomit infront of the mens basketball team for 30 mins. I am sure there are many other humane types of punishment that could have been given. It is sad that we have coaching staff that would allow this to take place. They are suppose to be role models for the students. Would you really feel that way if this was your child being treated like this?

  • radar

    Need to toughen up if your are going to play Division I athletics . What would expect from a bunch of liberal administrators ? This is NOT excessive punishment just a bunch of compassionate BS that UNDERMINES the coaching staff trying to instill discipline. She is the Adam James (Texas Tech) of UNCW whose 2.3 points would not be missed if I where the coach. I received this type of treatment while competing in H.S athletics and military boot camp and it did not do any irreparable harm and it made me focus better on the task at hand. Kelly Mehrtens will be micromanaging the men’s practices as well. The only one that needs a rolling drill is Mehrtens. Roll her out of town !

  • Guest

    Maybe you should have stayed retired with comments like this.How did you get from basketball to the Marines?

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday

    I highly recommend that she NOT consider joining the Marines or any special ops groups in the other branches of service. She’ll be amazed at how often she’s PT’d until she loses breakfast.

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday

    So my claim that you suck it up and gut through it isn’t that far a stretch. Whether we’re talking about basic training or getting together a championship team, there is a demand for excellence. You keep going when you think you can’t. You go above and beyond what you THOUGHT you could do.

    Do you think people like Vince Lombardi accomplished what they did by accepting mediocrity?

    Perhaps UNCW wouldn’t consistently produce third rate teams if they’d let the coaches actually coach. I always thought that thw “W” stood for Wilmington….not wimps.

  • Commonsensenotcommontoday

    Drive, determination, self-discipline, and not letting life kick your tail. It’s the same, regardless of your undertaking. When you think you can’t, you DO.

    If a few log-rolls are so unbearable to this girl, she may have difficulty in dealing with many, many things life throws at her. (Of course, to give her the benfit of the doubt, she may not be the source of the “outrage.” How dare a coach try to actually build that “can-do” attitude?)

    Also interesting to note that many young people her exact age are facing far worse than “log rolls” right now in Afghanistan…yet somehow, they suck it up and do the mission.

  • Guest

    It’s still a stretch.It takes a whole lot more,as you know,to join the military.All this girl wants is a education.The part of this “discipline” I think was wrong was having her do it in front of the men’s team. Discipline is one thing,humiliation another.That said I liked your answer.

  • Guest2769

    Do you realize how stupid you sound? You are comparing sports practice to boot camp that trains our armed forces? Maybe instead she should have ran laps with an M-16 above her head. Time to change your name from “Commonsense” to “Idiotic”. Whoooooo Raaah!!

  • The “W” stands for “wannabe”


Related News