Longtime University of San Francisco head baseball coach Nino Giarratano was fired amid players' allegations that he and an assistant coach used bullying, harassment and "sexualized behavior" as intimidation tactics on the field.
Three USF players filed a lawsuit against the school, the two coaches and the NCAA alleging sexual misconduct, bullying and harassment, lawyers representing the players said in a news release Friday.
According to the class action complaint, Giarratano and former assistant coach Troy Nakamura had a history of abuse, ranging from inappropriate yelling and humiliation to wildly sexualized behavior, including sexualized exercises and nudity on the field.
Nakamura was fired in January, and soon after Giarratano was reprimanded, the university said. Giarratano now has been terminated after 22 seasons as the Dons' coach.
The lawsuit also alleges the NCAA failed to protect the players by not having protocols in place against sexual contact between coaches and student-athletes, and the suit says the university failed to respond to multiple complaints of abuse.
"The student-athletes and their parents are absolutely horrified by the abusive behavior of the coaches, which was compounded by the school’s choice to ignore their pleas for help," said Elizabeth Fegan, one of the attorneys representing the students.
The 113-page complaint, filed by law firms FeganScott and Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, names the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA), USF, and Giarratano and Nakamura.
University records show that of 17 recruits in the 2020 USF baseball class, eight have transferred and two more are attempting to transfer, a 60% attrition rate, the suit alleges. The national average for baseball student-athletes entering the transfer portal is 2%.
One USF player left the program after contemplating suicide because of the coaches' abuse, the suit says.
Allegations against the coaches include verbal abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation, and public shaming.
University of San Francisco provided the following statement Friday to NBC Bay Area:
"The University of San Francisco is aware that a class action suit has been filed in U.S. District Court naming USF, the NCAA, and USF baseball coaches. The charges in the court filing are extremely concerning and are in direct opposition to USF's core values. We condemn the abusive and degrading behavior described in the lawsuit. We are committed to our current and former student athletes, and we are committed to determining the facts in the case. USF will have a more detailed response after a thorough review of the lawsuit."