Cal fires assistant Yann Hufnagel over sexual harassment claim

ByJeff Borzello and Jeff Goodman ESPN logo
Tuesday, March 15, 2016

California assistant coach Yann Hufnagel has been fired after an investigation into sexual harassment allegations.

The school released a statement Monday afternoon.

"California's head men's basketball coach, Cuonzo Martin, has initiated termination proceedings under University of California policy against assistant coach, Yann Hufnagel," the statement read. "Effective immediately, Hufnagel has been relieved of his duties pending the outcome of the termination process and will not be traveling with the team during its NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament run.

"The actions follow a finding, issued today by UC Berkeley's Office of the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination (OPHD) that Hufnagel violated the University's sexual harassment policy."

Hufnagel told ESPN that no sexual harassment occurred.

"I'm crushed," Hufnagel said. "I can't believe it. I'm blindsided. I never imagined this would be the outcome.

"Cal has been incredibly slow-moving in the process. I'm in the process of hiring a legal team to exonerate my name."

According to a source, the allegations came from a female reporter.

The woman who accused Hufnagel is not affiliated with the school, university spokesman Dan Mogulof said. It opened an investigation in August after she complained about a "detailed series of communications and behaviors" from Hufnagel between November 2014 and May 2015, Mogulof said.

The woman was in touch with Hufnagel as part of her work, and campus investigators concluded in a report issued Monday that some or all of the behavior she reported violated the university's sexual harassment rules, Mogulof said.

UC Berkeley officials are holding off on releasing the written report on the Hufnagel investigation for a few days at the request of the woman who complained.

"You're talking about a guy who's part of your staff and a family member," Martin, who is in his second year coaching Cal, told reporters during a conference call. "We continue to push forward. It's not an easy thing, but we'll find our way."

Hufnagel's name and bio have already been removed from Cal's official website.

Hufnagel, 33, joined the Golden Bears' staff in 2014 after Martin was hired. Before coming to Cal, Hufnagel spent one season at Vanderbilt and four seasons at Harvard. He also was a graduate assistant at Oklahoma, where he worked withBlake Griffin. Hufnagel built a reputation as an impressive recruiter who helped compile highly ranked recruiting classes at each of his stops.

Cal plays in the NCAA tournament Friday against Hawaii.

Hufnagel is at least the fourth UC Berkeley employee in the past year to face sexual harassment allegations that were substantiated during campus investigations.

The university has faced criticism for what some saw as its light-handed discipline in the three earlier cases, involving the campus' vice chancellor for research, a prominent astronomer and the dean of the law school. All three men initially were allowed to keep their jobs but ended up resigning under pressure.

In response to the mounting disclosures, University of California president Janet Napolitano announced Friday that she is appointing a systemwide committee to review and approve all proposed penalties for high-level administrators who violate sexual assault and harassment policies. Previously, it had been up to individual campuses to impose sanctions on their own officials.

"Prompt and effective responses to findings of sexual harassment and sexual violence are key to changing behavior," Napolitano wrote in a letter to UC Berkeley chancellor Nicholas Dirks.

She also is awaiting recommendations for strengthening the process for reporting, investigating and issuing sanctions in sexual misconduct cases involving faculty members.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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