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    Idaho AD, president warned about Chris Gonzalez’s alleged abuse in December 2022
    • January 12, 2024

    The parent of a University of Idaho volleyball team starter detailed how Vandals head coach Chris Gonzalez had “created an extremely negative culture and hostile environment” in a 1,300-word letter to Idaho athletic director Terry Gawlik in December 2022.

    Hans Doorn, father of Idaho setter Kate Doorn, said he received only a “generic” response from Gawlik to the letter in which university president C. Scott Green was also copied on and Gonzalez continued to bully and physically, verbally and emotionally abuse Vandals players through the 2023 season, according to 12 current or former Idaho players, five parents and two university employees. Gonzalez also allegedly pushed or shoved two players to the ground during practices in 2022 and improperly touched athletes, according to player interviews and university documents.

    While Gonzalez continued an alleged pattern of abusive behavior that also included body shaming, depriving players of food and pressuring players to play or practice while hurt during the 2023 season, the Dorn letter shows that Gawlik and Green and other Idaho officials had notice of detailed examples of Gonzalez’s alleged abusive behavior.

    “Chris Gonzalez has demonstrated abusive verbal behavior and created an extremely negative culture and hostile environment,” Doorn wrote in the Dec. 5, 2022 letter to Gawlik in which Matt Brewer, associate AD for compliance and Brian Wolf, the school’s faculty athletic representative, were also copied. “I am concerned about my daughter Kate’s mental health, and that of the entire women’s volleyball team. I am directing this note to Ms. Gawlik not only as the Athletic Director who oversees the athletic program, but as the Senior Women Administrator. These young female athletes need an advocate to help, provide advice, mentor, and to listen to their story of this volleyball season.”

    But Gawlik and university officials have not listened according to Doorn, former and current Idaho players, other parents and university employees.

    “We were very frustrated,” Doorn said in an interview Friday.

    The revealing of the Doorn letter comes less than 24 hours after 10 current Idaho team members formally asked Green and Gawlik to place Gonzalez and the coaching staff on leave until a school investigation into abuse allegations against Gonzalez is completed.

    Players and their parents have also alleged that Gawlik and other university officials have repeatedly ignored or dismissed their complaints or concerns over the past 17 months.

    University officials, and Gawlik in particular, have been sharply criticized by players, alumni, boosters and some members of the Idaho media for not placing Gonzalez on leave while an investigation by the school’s Office of Civil Rights and Investigations and another probe by Texas law firm hired by the university proceed. Players and critics have also questioned Gawlik’s decision to attend the NCAA Convention this week in Phoenix in the midst of what even some of her supporters have described as the biggest crisis of her 4 1/2 year tenure as the Vandals AD.

    Gonzalez, a Southern California native and former U.S. national team coach, is 5-51 in two seasons at Idaho.

    “If he was coaching any other sport for his record alone he would already be let go,” Doorn said.

    Gawlik and a university spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment.

    Gawlik is scheduled to meet with Idaho players on Tuesday. It will be the first time Gawlick has met with Idaho players since an SCNG report on December 30 revealed player allegations that Gonzalez has routinely physically, verbally and emotionally abused players during his two seasons at the Big Sky Conference school

    Gonzalez is scheduled to hold his first practice with players on January 18.

    Idaho players have repeatedly expressed concerns about their safety if they are required to practice with Gonzalez.

    Gonzalez said in an email to SCNG Friday that, “yes, we have strategies in place” to deal with player safety concerns. “I am awaiting a response from our administration on which type of information I will be able to provide as the investigation is still ongoing.”

    Dean of Students Blaine Eckles will also attend the meeting, Gawlik said.

    A case manager from the Office of the Dean of Students “will attend and monitor all team practices, meetings, and activities where the coaches are present, or when requested by any of you,” Gawlik wrote in the email to the players.

    A psychologist from the Counseling & Mental Health Center has also been assigned to the team.

    “Additional concerns may be brought to the assigned case manager and additional support measures can be implemented, including individualized referrals to the appropriate services necessary to care for your welfare,” Gawlik also wrote.

    But Doorn, Idaho players past and present, parents, alumni and financial donors question why Gawlik, Green and other university officials didn’t take similar action more than a year ago?

    “I would have been great,” Doorn said Friday. “Then another group of (players) would have not had to go through the same things Kate did.”

    In describing “textbook bullying behavior” by Gonzalez in his Dec. 5, 2022 letter to Gawlik, Doorn detailed examples of bullying, verbal abuse, “severe diet and meal issues while traveling,” and “zero attempts to create a culture or team identity, zero attempts at forming relationships with the athletes.”

    Doorn also refers in the letter to meetings in which Idaho players presented examples of Gonzalez’s alleged abuse to Gawlik and information from women who played for Gonzalez at American University and Iowa that detailed the coach’s alleged abusive behavior.

    “By now you have had a meeting with certain members of the current women’s volleyball team, including Kate, and therefore you are aware of this situation and the issues being raised,” Doorn wrote. “I implore you to look into each of these issues, examples, the breadth of how many people are involved, and the pattern of this behavior. The list of people that are involved includes current athletes, prior athletes that have already left the program, athletes from last spring, members of the support staff such as Trainers, Nutritionist, Strength Coach, and Biomechanist, and other members of the volleyball community. You have been presented with information from players that goes back more than 15 years and 4 years ago that outline this exact same pattern of abusive behavior by Chris Gonzalez. Please interview all these people, ask questions, and come to your own conclusions.

    “There have been multiple examples of abusive verbal and other behaviors from Chris Gonzalez that I believe you are already aware of as indicated by you and members of the Athletic department attending multiple practices earlier in the season.

    “There was no coaching taking place nor follow-up on what she could do to improve. Calling out an individual team member in front of everyone else is demoralizing, embarrassing, unproductive, and simply disrespectful. I am very concerned about how this may affect an athlete’s mental health. In addition, this creates an extremely negative culture and hostile environment. The entire season the players were so scared to make the littlest mistake and then to receive his abusive rhetoric. This is just one example, and there are many many more. The girls that met with Ms. Gawlik today (December 5th) have documentation on examples throughout the season, last spring, and from other athletes and coaches. There are several athletes that included their names as part of the letter. Several other athletes are reluctant to be named because they are afraid of the repercussions from Chris Gonzalez and are terrified of him not only because of his treatment this season but also because of his position of power that he wields over them in terms of their futures and scholarships. “

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    Kate Doorn transferred to Sacramento State where she played in every one of the Hornets’ 130 sets during the 2023 season while directing the Big Sky’s top offense en route to winning the conference’s regular season title. Doorn was seventh in the Big Sky in assists per set (6.28). Idaho finished the 2023 season with 885 assists as a team. Doorn recorded 704 assists this past season all by herself.

    Doorn wrote what he described as a follow up email to Green and Gawlik on Friday.

    “My intent for this email is to once again implore you to be an advocate for these athletes and support them,” Doorn said. “The current athletes should not have to face the person that they accuse of abuse by seeing him in practice and on campus. Show these brave young people the respect that they deserve and place Chris Gonzalez on leave until the investigation into him has concluded.

    “The University of Idaho is better than this. Do the right thing and support your students. “


    ‘These are cries for help;’ Players allege Idaho women’s volleyball coach Chris Gonzalez regularly bullied them

    Idaho expands investigation of volleyball coach Chris Gonzalez

    Idaho volleyball players ask school to place Chris Gonzalez on leave

    ​ Orange County Register