Sheryl Swoopes, who Loyola announced over the weekend wouldn’t return as its women’s basketball head coach, released a statement through her representatives on Tuesday.
Swoopes said she believes the university’s investigation — launched on April 15 after The PHOENIX reported 10 of the team’s 12 expected returners had plans to leave the program — suggested there was no wrongdoing on her part.
“All I can say at this point is that I do feel vindicated,” Swoopes said in the release. “I was one hundred percent pleased with what I thought clearly supported all I’ve ever tried to provide as a coach, an employee and the woman of character my mother has raised.”
Athletic Director Steve Watson announced in a three-sentence press release over the weekend that Swoopes would not return to the program. He did not reveal the results of the investigation, only Swoopes’ departure.
“Sheryl Swoopes is no longer serving as the women’s basketball coach at Loyola University Chicago,” Watson said in the statement. “A search for her replacement will begin immediately. Loyola thanks Sheryl for her service to the women’s basketball program.”
Although Watson’s statement did not specify whether Swoopes had been fired or if she left on her own accord, Swoopes said she’s disappointed that she will no longer work with Loyola’s incoming recruits.
“Last week I was looking forward to what lied next, right after the holiday,” Swoopes said. “We’d been planning to greet eight of the 12 committed student-athletes to campus today. I’ve heard people speak of Transformation Tuesday and now I experience it. I’m disappointed that I won’t have the opportunity to be there on this Tuesday as ‘Coach Swoopes’.”
Kimberly Blackwell, Swoopes’ representative and agent, said Swoopes was happy with the results of the investigation, yet surprised with Loyola’s decision.
“Sheryl trusted a process and that process worked,” Blackwell said in the statement. “Things are of record. We are comfortable with the outcomes. Yet, we’re disappointed with the recent decision of Loyola and the three seasons that were reduced to three sentences.”
During Swoopes’ three year tenure in Chicago, her teams held a 45-62 overall record, including 19-35 in the Missouri Valley Conference. Swoopes had no head coaching experience before taking the lead of Loyola’s women’s basketball program. Her only prior coaching experience was serving as the girl’s basketball assistant coach for Mercer Island High School in Washington in 2010.