Oakland's Harsh Ex-Coach Beckie Francis: Players Describe 'Constant Head Games'

Beckie Francis, the Oakland University women's basketball coach who was booted last month for an undisclosed reason after 16 years on the job,  set high expectations that applied to players' personal lives.

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Beckie Francis was fired last month after an inquiry into her conduct and behavior. [AP Photo by Carlos Osorio]

Now that she's gone, some past team members talk about "an obsession by the coach to control their lives on and off the court," according to Free Press sportswriters Mick McCabe and Mark Snyder.

They summarize the heads-ups that freshmen got from older teammates:

If anyone asks, you are a virgin. You are Christian. You do not drink. You do not smoke. You do not talk to guys. You sit in your dorm room and study.

And, above all, you also watch what you eat.

Stacey Farrell, an all-state guard from St. Clair High, tells the reporters what she says Francis advised newcomers in the summer of 2007:

 “We don’t fraternize with the men’s team. By the way, are you guys virgins? You guys are virgins, right? You haven’t had sex, right?”

The sportswriters add:

Five former players and three others familiar with the program described similar meetings Francis held in subsequent years. . . .

Farrell was among 15 former players and others close to the OU program who in interviews with the Free Press were critical of Francis. . . .

Oakland University officials have shed little light on the reasons for her dismissal. The school released a statement at the time that said an investigation had begun in April after concerns about her conduct and behavior and that she had been terminated with cause in June.

Farrell and two other ex-players who agreed to be named give details of what they considered mental abuse:

Karli Harris, who transferred in 2010 after one season, said Francis’ behavior bordered on harassment. Harris said Francis focused her attention on a player’s weight, her grade-point average, her social life and whether she attended church services with her. . . . "It was just head games, constant head games.” 

Jenna Bachrouche, who transferred in 2012 after two seasons, said she felt emotionally abused by Francis and was forced to endure religious intimidation from Francis. Bachrouche is Muslim. She also said Francis constantly criticized her weight, although Bachrouche appeared to be anything but overweight. . . .

"Looking back on it now, it was just insane.’’

 

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