|Christopher discusses Ali Mann's resignation after her relationship with a student came to light (2-28-13)|
|Written by JACK CARLE Sentinel Sports Editor|
|Thursday, 28 February 2013 01:28|
Mann, one of the most popular players in the history of women’s basketball at BGSU, resigned last Thursday.
Mann, who was a major factor in BG’s Sweet 16 NCAA tournament run in 2007, was in her first year as an assistant with the Falcons.
“On the morning of Feb. 21 ... she confirmed a consensual relationship with a student and she resigned,” Christopher said.
Christopher, Lesley Irvine, BG’s assistant athletics director of sports administration and the senior woman administrator, and BG head coach Jennifer Roos were at the meeting with Mann when she resigned.
“This is a really sensitive topic; very emotional, not only for those involved, but for everybody involved with the program,” Christopher added. “The decision to delay laying out the time line, was based completely on the welfare of the team. If we had done everything on Friday (Feb. 22) when we announced that Ali had resigned, I believe that real damage would have been done to the team.”
Christopher said the incident was not an NCAA violation, that there was not harassment involved, and it was not a criminal matter.
“We have no reason to believe that the situation was any of those,” Christopher said.
Christopher said he did not know how long the relationship had been going on between Mann and the student.
He added Mann was not asked to resign.
Christopher said the process started on Feb. 18 when “a handful of team members spoke with Jennifer related to an alleged relationship between Ali and a student within the program.”
The student involved was not identified by Christopher, who said he used the word student, because he could not be specific as to whether the person was a manager, a player, a student trainer or a practice player.
On the night of Feb. 18, Christopher said Roos spoke with the student involved and with Mann.
Then on Feb. 20, Christopher said he separately spoke with Mann, Roos and the student, and after those conversations the matter was turned over to BGSU’s Human Resources Department for a formal inquiry.
“We informed Ali of this and then we met with the team and informed them about the inquiry and informed them what this meant,” Christopher said. “We also emphasized the process, that this was a serious allegation, but that we needed to be fair and thorough throughout the process.”
At the time, Christopher said Mann had not been suspended. But on the night of Feb. 20, Mann was sent to a high school game in Toledo to recruit instead on being on the team bench for a home game against Akron.
After Mann resigned on Feb. 21, Christopher met with the team and explained that Mann had resigned, explained that the HR inquiry was over before it even started, and also discussed the communication plan.
“We used the phrase ‘personal reasons’ which was true,’’ Christopher said. ‘‘We also acknowledged for everyone involved, that it wasn’t the whole story.”
From Friday through Tuesday, Christopher said there was on-going communication with everybody involved with the team and the parents.
“We still and always will have very real privacy issues related to students,” Christopher said. “What has changed, (is that) these few days have allowed everybody, essentially, a moment to catch their breath and to start processing what we are going through.
“The players have had time to talk with their parents and then after that we have had time to talk with the parents, not all of them, but some of them ... We didn’t want the parents of those involved with our team to read this in the newspaper, before their own kids had a chance to touch base with them,” Christopher added.
Christopher said every student in the program was encouraged to call their parents.
“We made it clear we were open to parents reaching out to us,” he said. “It’s my understanding that Jennifer reached out to the parents. I was not part of those conversations,” Christopher said.
|Last Updated on Thursday, 28 February 2013 10:40|
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