In a report published by the Kansas City Star on Sunday, several, former UMKC softball players have accused Assistant Softball Coach Greg Bachkora of sexual harassment, alleging he consistently entered the girl’s locker room unannounced.
Bachkora, who is in his third year of coaching at UMKC, made these sudden appearances in the girl’s locker room to “use the microwave or get equipment.” Upon arrival, many players would be fully or partially undressed or even in the shower.
Parents of the softball players told the Star the girls would often have to scramble to cover themselves or duck behind furniture so that Bachkora would not see them naked.
The Star also reported Bachkora has been known to kiss the girls on the forehead or cheek, actions he claimed were done in a “fatherly, nonsexual manner.” Players also alleged the assistant coach made inappropriate jokes regarding female genitalia.
Three softball students first reported Bachkora’s inappropriate behavior to the university last May, and UMKC only gave Bachkora a written warning for the alleged actions. The university then gave the department a new microwave to use in a neutral, common area after the allegations surfaced.
Bachkora’s actions were brought to the attention of the Title IX officer at the time, Mikah Thompson, who is now a UMKC law professor. Thompson initially believed these actions might have constituted sexual harassment until she talked to Bachkora herself.
She told the Star her decision to not take further action against the assistant coach for his behavior was based on the credibility of his explanation and his acknowledgement of the alleged actions.
The Star said, “The open-and-shut case has pried open again, revealing a lingering unease on UMKC’s softball team and hard feelings between former players, their parents and university officials.”
One parent told the Star their daughters felt compelled to leave UMKC and play softball at another university because Bachkora would continue coaching.
On behalf of UMKC, the Assistant Director of Strategic Communications Stacy Downs told U-News that UMKC only received one complaint against Bachkora.
“Like all complaints involving any form of discrimination or harassment, this was taken very seriously by everyone involved at UMKC,” said Downs. “The Title IX office determined that the actions constituted inappropriate activity and errors in judgment that did not rise to the level of a policy violation.”
Downs said other players on the team were given the opportunity to sit down with the new athletic director, Brandon Martin, in December to discuss any complaints, discomforts or misgivings about Bachkora without the coaches present.
Downs said UMKC is monitoring Bachkora’s actions closely and was told that any further inappropriate behavior will result in immediate additional punitive actions. Bachkora was given a written warning that remains in his file, which constitutes a reprimand under the Collected Rules and Regulations of the University of Missouri, said Downs.
“We are satisfied with the results of the original investigation,” said Downs.
Photo source: UMKC Softball on Twitter (@UMKCSB)