Former UCLA women’s soccer coach Amanda Cromwell, who led the Bruins to a national championship and four Pac-12 titles in nine seasons before leaving for the Orlando Pride, has been banned from working in the NWSL following a months-long investigation into allegations of verbal abuse and favoritism.
To qualify for reinstatement, Cromwell and assistant coach Sam Greene, who was also banned, must participate in training regarding retaliation, anti-discrimination, anti-harassment and anti-bullying, as well as executive coaching.
Goalkeeper coach Aline Reis, who did not fully cooperate with the investigation in violation of league policy, has been placed on unpaid administrative leave and ordered to complete mandatory training regarding anti-retaliation, anti-discrimination, anti-harassment and anti-bullying. The league is also mandating additional training for the Orlando Pride organization.
In March, less than four months after Cromwell left UCLA to coach the Pride, team counsel investigated allegations of verbal abuse and favoritism by Cromwell and Greene, the NWSL says. Some of the allegations were substantiated and both coaches received written warnings. Cromwell was also ordered to participate in leadership training.
Two months later, an investigative team representing NWSL and the league’s players association received additional information that Cromwell and Greene were engaging in retaliatory conduct towards players they believed had initiated, participated in or were supportive of the March investigation. These allegations were also substantiated, with the coaches found “to have engaged in conduct that discouraged reporting and fostered a general fear of retaliation, and to have taken negative actions against certain players, including by seeking to waive or trade them,” according to the league.
In June, Cromwell, Greene, Reis and assistant coach Michelle Akers raised complaints that they were subjected to various forms of misconduct. The league investigated charges via a third party, but no violations of league policy could be substantiated.
Cromwell and Greene were suspended on June 7, while Akers and Reis stepped away from the team. Assistant coach Seb Hines was named interim manager and led the team to a 5-10-7 record, finishing 10th in the 12-team league table.
Cromwell released a statement Monday afternoon in which she said she was “saddened and disappointed with the results of the NWSL’s investigation,” one she believed lacked “transparency, professionalism and thoroughness.”
“As a result,” Cromwell said “my character and integrity have been mischaracterized.”
Cromwell said she is reviewing legal options.
Cromwell, 52, made 55 appearances with the U.S. national team, playing 74 minutes in the 1995 World Cup. As a coach she revitalized the program at Central Florida, taking the Knights to 11 NCAA tournament appearances in 14 seasons before leaving for UCLA in 2013 and guiding the Bruins to their only national championship.
Cromwell was also an early investor in Angel City, an NWSL expansion team, but she was forced to divest from the team when she joined the Orlando Pride.
NWSL and its players association began investigating allegations of workplace misconduct last October following reports in The Athletic and the Washington Post of intimidation, sexual and verbal harassment and other misbehavior. The resulting fallout forced the resignation or removal of commissioner Lisa Baird, general counsel Lisa Levine and, eventually, five of the league’s 10 coaches.
At the time U.S. Soccer appointed former acting attorney general Sally Q. Yates to launch a probe of the league and last week Yates released her findings in a 319-page report that determined players had been subjected to pervasive, systemic and widespread sexual abuse and harassment the NWSL and U.S. Soccer did little to stop. The report included a series of recommendations to correct and prevent further abuse, recommendations U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone acted immediately to address.
A full report from NWSL/NWSLPA joint investigative team is expected to be released later this year.