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Sports

BU coach Kelly Greenberg out after bullying accusations

4 players had quit team, alleging abuse

Kelly Greenberg had received a contract extension before allegations against her caused divisions at Boston University.

Barry Chin/Globe Staff

Kelly Greenberg had received a contract extension before allegations against her caused divisions at Boston University.

Boston University has parted ways with women’s basketball coach Kelly Greenberg after four scholarship players said they quit the team last season because Greenberg emotionally abused them.

Greenberg began sharing the news of her resignation late Tuesday with former players who supported her. She confirmed her departure in a statement posted on the BU Today website early Wednesday morning. It came after a university committee reviewed the complaints of abuse.

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“I do not agree with some of the findings of the review panel regarding my coaching style, which was intended to produce well-rounded athletes and a winning team,’’ Greenberg said. “However, given all that has transpired, I do not believe that it will be possible for me to continue as an effective coach at Boston University.”

Todd Klipp, senior counsel at the university, was quoted by BU Today as saying that many of the complaints could not be substantiated, but that “a compelling case was made, based on interviews with the team as a whole, that the manner in which Coach Greenberg interacted with many of her players was incompatible with the expectations and standards for university employees, including our coaches.”

Greenberg’s attorney, Paul Kelly, said he and Greenberg would have no comment Tuesday night.

‘I felt bullied, threatened, and emotionally abused by the coach.’

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Another player, one of those who complained about treatment by Greenberg, said she hoped the departure would put the team back on the right footing.

“I was really hopeful that BU was going to make the right decision,’’ said Melissa Gallo, the only senior among the alleged victims. “The whole reason I came forward was so the girls who are still on the team will have a much better experience than what I went through and what the other girls went through. Now, I hope this program will start heading in a positive direction.’’

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BU formed the committee last month to investigate the matter after the Globe reported the bullying allegations. Gallo and the other former players, sophomores Dionna Joynes, Katie Poppe, and Dana Theobald, said Greenberg treated them the worst when they were injured.

As the four prepared to testify before the review panel, two other women, Nikki Tamanosky and Michal Epstein, came forward and alleged that Greenberg emotionally abused them as players in previous seasons.

Tamanosky played for Greenberg in the 2011-12 season. Epstein was a member of Greenberg’s first team at BU in 2004.

“I literally felt like she bullied me out of the program,’’ Tamanosky told the Globe last month. “I came to hate myself because of her.’’

Greenberg had overcome similar allegations involving two other players after the 2008 season. She had since strung together several winning seasons, which prompted BU last year to grant her a contract extension through the 2016-17 season.

The recent bullying complaints had created a tempest at BU, with many of Greenberg’s former players rallying around her. Greenberg’s supporters described her as a tough but caring, character-building leader.

“As a whole, we’re disappointed with the school and disagree with the decision they came to,’’ said Mo Moran, who captained Greenberg’s 2012-13 team at BU. “I don’t think the girls who complained took into consideration the livelihoods of coach Greenberg and her staff. I hope this totally backfires on BU because of the way they handled this. I don’t want anything to do with the school anymore, and it’s a shame because I loved my four years there.’’

Gallo said that she appeared several times before BU’s investigative committee. She and the other alleged victims have publicly stood by their accounts.

Joynes, in an interview last month, said she felt suicidal after Greenberg described her as an uncaring and selfish teammate who failed to communicate satisfactorily with the coaching staff after she suffered a concussion. She said she was rushed by ambulance to a hospital because of emotional stress.

Joynes and two other players who quit the team last season said they received mental health care because of Greenberg’s alleged bullying. The fourth player said Greenberg destroyed her enthusiasm for basketball.

Joynes and Theobald walked away from $60,000-a-year scholarships. Gallo is due to graduate next month, and Poppe said she plans to stay at the school despite the end of her basketball career.

“I was so grateful to go to such a prestigious and expensive school and be given a full scholarship to play there,’’ Theobald, a former star at West Springfield High School, said last month. “I arrived feeling very confident and motivated. Then I felt bullied, threatened, and emotionally abused by the coach. By the time I left there, she had demolished me as a person.’’

Greenberg, 46, has been credited with helping many players through the years. She has been praised by leaders at the University of Pennsylvania, where she guided the Quakers to two Ivy League titles as head coach from 1999-2004, and College of the Holy Cross, where she served for seven years, finishing as the associate head coach.

Greenberg posted a record of 186-127 at BU, despite failing to win a postseason conference tournament. The Terriers finished 13-20 this season, Greenberg’s worst at BU, but she had gone 47-15 the previous two years.

Gallo, who played in 25 games before she split from the team after the final game of the regular season, said in an earlier interview that she had given Greenberg a letter listing some of the hurtful comments the coach had made while treating her like a “punching bag.’’

“I came here to play the game I loved, and I fell in love with the school,’’ Gallo said. “But I discovered that when you play for Coach Greenberg, you don’t play the game you love. You play her game, an emotional game that is not about basketball.’’

Bob Hohler can be reached at hohler@globe.com.

Clarification: Because of an editor’s error, Boston University senior counsel Todd Klipp’s comments were incomplete in an earlier version of this story.

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