UVic threatens discipline if athletes speak about coach investigation

Lily-Copeland-U-Vic

Former University of Victoria coxswain Lily Copeland is photographed at UVic campus in Victoria, B.C., on Saturday, November 16, 2019. Three rowers who accused coach Barney Williams of harassment and abuse say the University of Victoria has threatened them with disciplinary action if they speak about the results of the investigation. (Chad Hipolito/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

VANCOUVER — Three rowers who accused coach Barney Williams of harassment and abuse say the University of Victoria has threatened them with disciplinary action if they speak about the results of the investigation.

An appeal process examining the allegations recently ended and athletes were provided with a report yesterday, but they say in a statement they don’t feel comfortable saying anything about it.

Lily Copeland is one of the complainants and has alleged Williams criticized her weight and appearance and yelled at her in a small, locked room, but Williams says he regards coaching as a privilege, and he encourages athletes to become their best version of themselves.

The university faced criticism in 2016 for threatening a sexual assault complainant with disciplinary action if she spoke about the investigative report in her case with anyone other than her family, lawyer, counsellor or police.

At the time, the school said students are free to tell their stories but it cautioned against disclosing third-party information, and the case was cited in the B.C. legislature when the former government brought in legislation to require universities to have sexual assault policies.

The University of Victoria did not immediately respond to a request for comment today but has previously said privacy legislation and its own confidentiality policies apply to all investigations.

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