Q&A with Beckie Francis: ‘It is time to set the record straight’

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By Scott Wolchek

After months of silence, former women’s basketball coach, Beckie Francis, has decided it’s time to speak up about her June 2013 dismissal.  The Oakland Post sent Francis a series of questions in late October regarding her termination, accusations of emotionally abusing her players and her relationships with athletics director Tracy Huth and men’s basketball coach Greg Kampe. She responded this week. Assistant athletics director, Scott MacDonald said Huth had no comment. Kampe could not be contacted, according to MacDonald.

Because of the non-disparagement clause in her OU contract, Francis declined to answer a few of the questions.The following is an unedited version of her answers.

– Scott Wolchek

 

After your dismissal in June, you took the high road.  Why have you decided to respond directly now? What do you want us to know?

 

Francis: I was advised by my attorney not to speak. I am answering your request now because there have been misstatements in the media and the university has released statements. It is time to set the record straight from my point of view.  Since there is potential legal litigation, I cannot answer all of your questions.

 

OU athletics officials have publicly stated you were dismissed as the women’s basketball coach for “indications of conduct and behavior…that “if true” could be malfeasance and materially adversely affect the orderly or efficient operation of the wbb program”. What is your reaction to the statement?

 

Francis: I am unaware of any malfeasance on my part or any actions taken by me that “could materially adversely affect the orderly or efficient operation” of the program.  My team has always been in the 90th-100th percentile of Women’s D1 Basketball with regard to academic performance and graduation rates.  Last year we ranked # 11 of 349 schools with a GPA average of 3.5.  We had no arrests, no team GPA issues, no APR/eligibility issues.  I am extremely proud of my players and our team.

 

It seemed strange to us that the statement included “if true” when referring to these indications of conduct and behavior. What was your reaction to the phrase “if true”? What exactly does that mean? It sounds almost as though the University isn’t sure you’ve done anything wrong.

Francis: I don’t know what it means, either.  As I said above, I do not think I did anything that would amount to “malfeasance”.  Nor have I been given any information which would suggest otherwise.

 

In a statement that addressed the university community, OU’s Interim Pres. Betty Youngblood specifically addressed these allegations. It said:  “I want to assure you that protecting the freedom of religious, cultural, political and other forms of expression has been and always will be a high priority at Oakland. At the same time, we hold the freedom from the imposition of others’ views is equally crucial. As soon as the allegations of religious discrimination came to light, the university acted swiftly to investigate. The University did not tolerate such conduct and will not tolerate such conduct moving forward.” 

What are your thoughts on this statement?

 

Francis: I also believe that “protecting the freedom of religious, cultural, political and other forms of expression” should be a high priority, and I conducted myself accordingly. I never engaged in religious discrimination of any kind and as far as I am aware there have never been any findings to the contrary. Two years ago I was asked by the AD not to pray in the lockeroom with the players before games and to let the players select the movies shown on bus trips.  I complied and never heard of another issue until now.

 

A former OU WBB player has gone on the record with us, as well as local media, with allegations that you favored athletes who shared your Christian values and infringed on the religious beliefs of non-Christians. What’s your view on these complaints.

 

Francis: That is totally inaccurate.  Players played in games based on the player’s performance in practice. No one played more than someone else because of their faith or their church attendance. Obviously we would not have been a successful program if religion were the criteria. I never engaged in religious discrimination and there is zero evidence to support that.

 

Personnel files show that prior to being dismissed, you routinely received positive reviews, regular raises, and bonuses based on the academic performance of your players. You posted a great win-loss record in 13 seasons with OU and led the Golden Grizzlies to the NCAA tournament twice in your tenure. In other words, you were pretty good. Did you see this coming?

 

Francis:  No

 

When and how did you first learn that you might be dismissed?

 

Francis: I was sent an email to report to the campus general counsel office.

 

Were you given an opportunity to respond?

 

Francis: They gave me ‘topics’ that they said they were investigating, to which I responded to the best of my ability.  I was not given any specific incidents to respond to.

 

Shortly before the beinning of the 12-13 season, you revealed that you were a victim of sexual child abuse by your father. You have become an advocate for victims of sexual abuse, and the United States Basketball WRiters Association gave you its ‘Most Courageous’ Award. Was your decision to go public connected to the university’s decision to dismiss you as coach?

 

Francis:  No comment.

 

How would you characterize your relationship with (Greg) Kampe?

 

Francis: No comment.

 

Do you think he played any role in your dismissal?

 

Francis: I cannot comment on that.

 

What about Tracy Huth?

 

Francis: I cannot comment on that either.

 

You have indicated you want to focus on future endeavors and ‘on making a difference’. What are these efforts?

 

Francis: I look forward to future speaking engagements. I will continue to be an advocate for survivors of rape, sexual assault and childhood sexual abuse.

 

We’ve heard you’re considering a run for public office. Do you have any plans to aspire to a political career?

 

Francis: Maybe someday. Not right now. I am a big advocate for women to run for leadership positions and to get involved in public service.

 

In your view, why were you dismissed?

 

Francis: I cannot comment.