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Report: Rutgers Softball players allege abuse by head coach Kristen Butler

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Keith Sargeant and Matthew Stanmyre of NJ Advance Media reported the story on Wednesday afternoon

Thomas Northcutt/Rutgers Athletics

On Wednesday, Keith Sargeant and Matthew Stanmyre of NJ Advance Media reported allegations of physical and emotional abuse by Rutgers softball head coach Kristen Butler and her husband Marcus Smith, who serves as a volunteer assistant coach.

Butler was hired by athletic director Pat Hobbs in June of 2018, and she led Rutgers softball to a sixth place finish in Big Ten play last spring in her inaugural season, finishing 29-26 overall. The report states that 10 players have left the program in the past year. The report details allegations from seven players.

According to the story from NJ Advance Media, Hobbs denied all of the allegations and expressed frustrations towards the media:

After NJ Advance Media contacted Rutgers Tuesday with questions about the allegations, Hobbs called one of the reporters working on the story and launched into a profanity-laced tirade that ended with him saying “You guys are f------ scum. Why should I help you people?” Hobbs sent the reporter a text message an hour later to “apologize for my words.” He then added, “This narrative around RU being a place where abuse is tolerated is bull----. But it gets clicks.”

Hobbs, deputy director of athletics Sarah Baumgartner, and Butler released a response on Wednesday that, “categorically denied all the allegations lobbed against the coaches and the athletics department.” From the more detailed response:

Butler said none of the team’s conditioning sessions were abusive and that she never punished the team with conditioning. She pointed to university protocols that permit her to reevaluate a player’s scholarship but said the characterization of revoking scholarships is inaccurate. She also admitted no wrongdoing on behalf of her husband.

We will provide updates as they are available.