To say the first five weeks of the 2019 football season have been rough for Howard University would be an understatement.
HU has started the season 1-4, highlighted by a 79-0 loss in head coach Ron Prince’s first game against the University of Maryland. Friday news trickled out that Caylin Newton, last season’s MEAC Offensive Player of The Year, would be transferring. Newton confirmed that news on Tuesday along with three of his teammates.
If that wasn’t enough, rumblings off the field of something even more troublesome have started to trickle out of D.C.
HBCU Gameday has been contacted by several parents of Howard football players who accuse Prince of being verbally abusive and intimidating to the student-athletes. In separate conversations, parents accused Prince of sending injured players home without treatment and creating an atmosphere of intimidation within the program by the constant threat of loss of scholarships.
HBCU Gameday has been forwarded a copy of a letter a parent stated it sent to HU President Wayne Fredrick, Director of Athletics Kerry Davis, the MEAC and the NCAA on Sept. 5 by a parent. The letter is as follows:
To Who it may concern,
I send this correspondence with great trepidation, and out of fear of retaliation I will not identify myself. I am writing with concern about the student athletes of the Howard University Football team. I don’t believe that this is the first complaint that you have received about the hostile and abusive head coach at Howard. You hold all student athletes to a very high standard, if there is an allegation about misconduct they are suspended and or removed from the team, and maybe from the institution. Why are coaches not held to the same standard when it comes to blatant disrespect and harassment of student athletes?
Ron Prince has been threatening, hostile, abusive, and disrespectful of the young men and coaching staff at Howard University since his arrival. If a student displayed the same behavior towards another player, student, instructor, or person in the community he/she would be dealt with accordingly.
The harassment, bullying, verbal, and mental abuse needs to STOP! He has demoralized, ridiculed, and threatened the players on the team since his arrival. He has removed more than 26 student athletes from the program and has threatened to do the same to the remaining athletes. He has sent injured athletes’ home without treatment and has alienated and ridiculed them for being injured he made them wear yellow jerseys and sit in the stands during a scrimmage game that was open to the public. Further adding insult to injury and belittling them to the rest of the team. Athletes are terrified of this man, he tells them they are garbage and to transfer.
Most of these young men are scared to report the abuse out of fear of retaliation. (calling them sorority sisters if someone tells the administration). The pressures of being a student/athlete especially on are enormous, this is not a complaint about not getting playing time or being able to travel to the next game this is about the emotional wellbeing of these young men.
To call them cowards and threatening FBI investigations for point shaving and telling a player that he is going to federal prison and placing blame on the team when you lose 79 – 0 is unacceptable.
Threatening to take away scholarships for missing a community service event, making it mandatory to attend church services (that are not their religion). Telling athletes if they miss one class regardless of the reason that they are done making them take a selfie and send it to prove they are in class. Threatening to hold practice at 3:00 AM because a student athlete has class during scheduled practice time. Asking if anyone was gay? And telling them it was ok he wouldn’t hold it against them “In fact I want to have the first openly gay player(s) in the country, I know someone in here is gay!” Players were instructed not to talk to anyone without his approval.
I know currently these are just allegations, I sincerely hope that there is an investigation into what is being reported and that the hostile environment is addressed before a student has a mental breakdown or commits suicide because of this treatment.
I have heard reports that Mr. Prince has a long history of harassment and bullying in the NCAA as well as the NFL. Please put a stop to the Mental Abuse. Everyone deserves to be treated with Dignity and Respect and to work and study in a non-hostile environment without harassment or fear of retaliation. Thank you for looking into this situation.
The parents HBCU Gameday spoke with declined to give their name for fear of retaliation against their student-athletes.
“This isn’t about playing time,” one parent told HBCU Gameday. “This is about the psyche of young black men. We owe them better than that.”
Prince told HBCU Gameday he’s unaware of any complaints against him at this time.
“I have nothing to comment on that,” he said on Wednesday afternoon. “I don’t have any knowledge of it.”
HBCU Gameday reached out to Howard on Wednesday and received this statement late Wednesday evening.
“Howard University does not tolerate verbal abuse or threats of any kind. The safety and well-being of our students is of paramount importance and always our number one priority. We are taking swift action to understand and investigate the allegations pertaining to the treatment of student athletes on the football team.”