A soccer player says she was cruelly hazed by her Sooners coach
When SI's Richard Hoffer praised hazing in these pages a few weeks ago (SCORECARD, Sept. 13), he wasn't talking about violence or psychological abuse. But Kathleen Peay is talking about that sort of hazing. Former soccer player Peay, 21, claims she was humiliated by Bettina Fletcher, her coach at Oklahoma. Peay filed a federal lawsuit on Oct. 4 charging Fletcher with "physical and emotional abuse," which her lawyer says included an initiation rite in which freshmen were forced to wear diapers and simulate fellatio on bananas. The suit also names the university's board of regents and assistant coaches Missy Durham (now Starman) and Randall Robison as defendants.
According to Peay, the hazing took place on Oct 4, 1997, during a road trip to New Mexico. After a practice in Albuquerque, the Sooners rode in two university-rented vans—freshmen in one, upperclassmen in the other—to an elementary school playground, where the freshmen were ordered out of their van. "We knew we were going to be initiated because the night before we could overhear them discussing plans," Peay says. "I locked the door and said no. Bettina said, 'You don't know who you're f——— with.' " Peay says Fletcher screamed at her to open the door and that Robison, who was driving the freshmen, unlocked it. (Robison denies the charge.) After spilling out of the van, the freshmen were forced to put on adult diapers. It was then, Peay says, that Fletcher produced a banana and insisted that Peay and another player simulate oral sex on it. Players were also photographed with pickles in their mouths.
Fletcher often scrimmaged with her Sooners, and once when she kept playing a ball that had gone out of bounds, Peay jokingly called her a cheater. Fletcher punched her in the stomach, Peay says, and yelled, "F—- off!"
Peay says she wanted to quit the team after the New Mexico trip but couldn't have stayed in school without her athletic scholarship. According to a university source, in the fall of 1998 Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione was shown pictures of the hazing ritual, and Fletcher soon resigned for what she called personal reasons.
SI was unable to reach Fletcher, 36, a former North Carolina soccer player and assistant to Tar Heels coach Anson Dorrance—himself the subject of a sexual harassment suit filed by two players (SI, Dec. 7, 1998). Castiglione and Oklahoma president David Boren issued statements declining comment. Starman, now an assistant at Miami, said she didn't know enough about the suit to comment. A lawyer for Robison, who recently left the university, said his client took no part in the hazing.
Peay withdrew from Oklahoma last summer. She lives with her parents in Richardson, Texas, and insists she's through with soccer. "I have no desire to play," she says. "My self-esteem has been demolished."
Fletcher apparently isn't through with the sport. She spent a few weeks this season as a volunteer assistant at Nebraska.
Long Road Home
Khalid Khannouchi overcame 36� temperatures, swirling winds and a half-minute lead by another runner at the 21-mile mark to set a world record of 2:05:42 at the Chicago Marathon on Sunday morning. The Morocco-born Khannouchi will need an even stronger finishing kick to obtain American citizenship in time for the U.S. Olympic Trials next May.