Misconduct complaint sidelines Berkeley basketball assistant coach

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 14, 2016 8:08 PM

By Curtis Skinner

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - An assistant men's basketball coach at the University of California at Berkeley is being dismissed for violating the school's sexual harassment policy, the university said on Monday as the team headed into the NCAA March Madness tournament.

Word that termination proceedings were being initiated against Yann Hufnagel, who has been a California Golden Bears assistant coach for two years, marked the second high-profile sexual harassment case to surface at UC Berkeley in less than a week.

Campus officials declined to specify the nature of the case against Hufnagel, except to say it involved a combination of behavior and communications in 2014 and 2015 and that his accuser was a woman who was not affiliated with the university.

At her request, campus officials said they had decided to delay the planned release of a redacted version of Berkeley's investigative report to give the woman more time to read and digest its findings.

Hufnagel could not immediately be reached for comment but denied wrongdoing on Twitter: "Right now, the only focus should be on our basketball team! My time to exonerate myself of a fruitless claim by a reporter will come."

Berkeley's law school dean, Sujit Choudhry, resigned Thursday over allegations from his former executive assistant that he had subjected her to unwanted kissing and other physical contact. Choudhry denied that his behavior constituted sexual harassment, contrary to the findings of a university inquiry.

University President Janet Napolitano cited the Choudhry case and several others on Friday in instituting a new process for reviewing sexual misconduct complaints at all 10 campuses of the UC system.

Hufnagel has been relieved of his duties effective immediately as head coach Cuonzo Martin initiates termination proceedings, Berkeley said in a statement. Hufnagel has eight days to respond to UC's notice of its intent to dismiss him.

The Golden Bears are seeded fourth in the South Region of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's 64-team March Madness tournament and are due to play the University of Hawaii's Rainbow Warriors in first-round action on Friday in Spokane, Washington.

Berkeley's 23 wins this season are one shy of matching their highest total for a campaign since the 1959-60 NCAA runner-up squad and helped the Golden Bears secure their highest March Madness seed in program history.

(Writing and additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles)