Former women athletes sound off on 'dangerous culture' claim - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Former women athletes sound off on 'dangerous culture' claim

University of Louisville Women’s Basketball Coach Jeff Walz (Source: WAVE 3 News) University of Louisville Women’s Basketball Coach Jeff Walz (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Tia Gibbs (Source: WAVE 3 News) Tia Gibbs (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Candyce Bingham (Source: WAVE 3 News) Candyce Bingham (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Valerie Owens-Combs (Source: WAVE 3 News) Valerie Owens-Combs (Source: WAVE 3 News)
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - University of Louisville Women’s Basketball Coach Jeff Walz told fans Wednesday, if you don't enjoy yourself at a women's game -- he'll refund your money. 

Walz was excited to introduce his 2015-2016 team to a room full of fans for the women's team tip-off luncheon at the downtown Marriott. 

The hotel hosted a huge room of girl power and former players we talked to wanted to sound off about the recent Sports Illustrated claim that the university creates a dangerous culture for women.

Those we talked to called the claim and the association unfair. The UofL Women's basketball program and Coach Walz have a reputation of success for female student athletes.

During his speech, Walz told the crowd about their goal when he took over several years ago, "It's not just to win basketball games, but to change a culture."

The coach was referring to a culture of playing for the entire team not just for individual stats. He is not talking about a culture recently alleged at the University by Sports Illustrated writer Michael Rosenberg. Rosenberg alleged the University teaches its male athletes women can be used and discarded, further claiming the athletic department creates a "dangerous culture for women."

He made the link after scathing allegations came out about former men's basketball staffer Andre McGee. McGee's accuser claims he set up sex parties with prostitutes, players and recruits. The NCAA and the University are investigating.

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Former Sports Illustrated writer Billy Reed already suggested Rosenberg should issue an apology for not doing his legwork as he made that link. Now, former players upset about the association, like Tia Gibbs are talking. Gibbs says from Athletic Director Tom Jurich on down, she's only experienced and witnessed support of women.

Gibbs, who was on the court as a guard from 2009 to 2014, said the men’s basketball team only showed her team respect.

"They wanted to support, that was kind of the relationship we had, we were there for each other." Gibbs continued, "It wasn't just women's basketball, but it trickled down to volleyball and softball, they treated us with the utmost respect just like everyone else on campus."

Former player Candyce Bingham agreed, "We were treated with respect and a lot of the male athletes were friends with a lot of the female athletes and we would all hang out, text and go to each other’s games, so it was very supportive."

Former player Valerie Owens-Combs, who played back in 1980, said of the longtime support of the University, "I think I owe everything I am and who I've become to the University of Louisville. It's come a long way, it's even better now, than it was when I played." 

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