Scathing 'Sports Illustrated' report calls UofL a 'dangerous culture' for women

Scathing 'Sports Illustrated' report calls UofL 'troubling' environment for women

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - It's the latest unfavorable national headline for the University of Louisville.

This one reads, "Louisville created and continues to nurture dangerous culture for women," and it tops a story that was posted on Sports Illustrated's website SI.com Friday.

In it the article SI's Michael Rosenberg writes that the school's athletic department is teaching its male athletes that women can be used and discarded.

In looking into recent allegations that a hooker arranged escorts for UofL men's basketball players and recruits, Sports Illustrated interviewed Kathy Redmond Brown, the founder of the National Coalition Against Violent Athletes. Redmond Brown, who visits and speaks to college athletes about violence against women, talked about her visit to UofL in 2006. She told Sports Illustrated that her audience back then wasn't terribly receptive to the message.

"Sometimes you get a hostility ... laughing and snickers and shouting out that you normally don't see," she said.

And, she said, it wasn't those from male-dominated sports like football.

"(Actually), you're getting it from the B sports, and from the girls," Redmond Brown told SI. "That was much more troubling to me, was to get that from the girls. For the girls to talk to me, being hostile toward the other girls, even their own teammates ... when you get that, you start wondering what's there. You think: Something is not right in this environment."

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Redmond Brown told SI "the only way Louisville saves face is to clean house. That's the only way they can change the culture, is to clean house. That's it."

It's a story that UofL's Senior Woman Administrator Christine Herring takes great offense to.

"We take student athlete welfare very seriously here at the University of Louisville and we have a liaison that works directly with the Dean of Students and University Police in the event that any issue arises, so we try to address anything that comes our way head on," she said.

The article backs up its point by citing allegations that former U of L men's basketball staffer Andre McGee paid for prostitutes to entertain players and recruits. Rosenberg also brings up the very public affairs of both men's basketball coach Rick Pitino and football coach Bobby Petrino, who was welcomed back to UofL after lying about having hired his mistress at the University of Arkansas.

"When you use women as bait, men will always see them as bait," Rosenberg wrote. "Why would Louisville male athletes treat women with respect?"

Herring, who was an athlete at UofL in 2006, doesn't remember Redmond Brown's visit and says if there was heckling of any kind, she knows the university would have addressed it.

"Being a former student athlete, not once did I ever feel that I was ever in a threatening hostile environment here," Herring said.

The UofL Sports Information Department also released a statement on the story late Friday afternoon. It included a quote from volleyball standout Katie George, who also is the reigning Miss Kentucky and has earned an Atlantic Coast Conference postgraduate scholarship.

"In my four years as a student on Louisville's campus and as an athlete competing for the Cardinal Athletic Department, I have never been put into a situation where I felt uncomfortable or felt I had to 'toe a line,'" she said. "I have been treated with respect as a young woman and I feel that my play, my achievements and my femininity at UofL have been appreciated by male and females within the athletic department faculty, as well as players on both male and female teams."

Meanwhile Kentucky's top female leader, Lt. Governor Crit Luallen, weighed in on the story too.

"It's very disturbing obviously that all these questions have been raised about the culture surrounding the way women are handled and treated at the University of Louisville's athletic department," she said. "I think what's important is that we get to the bottom of the truth."

The school and the NCAA are currently investigating the recent allegations against the men's basketball program.

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