JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — One of the former ETSU softball players who has accused the current coaching staff of mistreating student-athletes has hired a law firm in an effort to prompt changes within the university’s softball program.
According to a release, former player Saxon Radcliffe has turned to The Bosch Law Firm of Knoxville in hopes of resolving the issues.
Saxon is one of at least two former ETSU players who have made allegations on social media against ETSU’s athletics department and first-year softball head coach Belinda Hendrix and her husband, assistant coach Jimmy Hendrix.
On Twitter, Saxon said Belinda and Jimmy Hendrix mentally and verbally abused players and accused the athletics department of not keeping her complaints confidential, which led to her being retaliated against by the coaches. She also said the athletics department had continuously chosen to ignore issues raised.
“Ms. Radcliffe was, until very recently, a promising student-athlete on the softball team at East Tennessee State University,” The Bosch Law Firm said in a release. “After enduring repeated emotional and verbal abuse by her coaches, Ms. Radcliffe took the brave step of reporting this unacceptable conduct to appropriate members of the ETSU Athletics Department. Shortly thereafter, she was dismissed from the team by her coaches in November 2021, without explanation.”
In a statement to News Channel 11, ETSU Director of Athletics Scott Carter said the law firm contacted the university several months ago.
“We have been responding to requests for information from the Bosch Law Firm regarding allegations against the softball team since the firm first reached out to us in December 2021,” Carter said. “As we outlined in earlier statements this week, an investigation into the issues they have mentioned is underway.”
The law firm said it interviewed other former and current ETSU softball team members, players and staff members from the college where the current ETSU coaches previously coached, and “other knowledgeable people within the regional softball community.”
“The emotional and verbal abuse uncovered is inappropriate by any professional standards,” the release states. “Further, the circumstances of at least one of the ETSU softball coaches’ departure, readily known to many, raises the question of whether there was a lack of due diligence in the decision to hire these coaches by the Athletics Department at ETSU.”
Jimmy Hendrix resigned from his role at Chipola College in March 2021 citing “personal reasons,” according to News Channel 11’s sister station in Panama City Beach, Florida. Belinda Hendrix left Chipola in July of that year after 18 seasons to head the ETSU program.
Carter said the university adequately evaluated Jimmy Hendrix before hiring him.
“I can confirm that — as with any employee we hire — we thoroughly vetted Mr. Hendrix completing both background checks and character and employment references,” Carter said.
The Bosch Law Firm said it hopes to discuss the matter with ETSU representatives “in an effort to find an appropriate resolution in order to provide a safe, educational and enriching environment for all members of the ETSU’s softball community. It is Saxon’s hope that her and her family’s efforts will bring a positive change to the toxic culture permeating the ETSU softball program.”
News Channel 11 has reached out to Saxon regarding her complaints but attempts to contact her have been unsuccessful. In its release, the law firm said Saxon “will make no further comment at this time.”