Tuesday, December 15, 2015

UA volleyball coach accused of abusive language issues denial of wrongdoing

Posted By on Tue, Dec 15, 2015 at 4:48 PM

click to enlarge TOUGH LOVE: Robert Pulliza, UA's head volleyball coach, denied that he crossed the line in harsh treatment of players. - THE ARKANSAS TRAVELER
  • TOUGH LOVE: Robert Pulliza, UA's head volleyball coach, denied that he crossed the line in harsh treatment of players.

Robert Pulliza
, the head volleyball coach at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, has issued a statement responding to a recent anonymous complaint of bullying treatment of players on the women's volleyball team. The Arkansas Traveler originally reported on the allegations. The UA student paper interviewed students who say Pulliza called female players "bitch" and once told a student he wanted to punch her.

Pulliza denied ever threatening physical harm to a player or using demeaning language to refer to female players, as several former players have claimed; he called those allegations "simply false." His said guiding young people requires "tough, but fair, love."

While Pulliza acknowledged his manner may have bothered "a small number of players," he said that's a product of "the zeal and enthusiasm I have for my players and our team." He said he's received support from current and former players and other coaches.

One thing to note: Pulliza's statement was issued by Impact Management, a Little Rock-based consultant firm, rather than the UA's athletic department.

Here's the coach's full statement:

These last few weeks have been some of the most difficult that I have experienced in my life, both personally and professionally as a coach.

Any accusation that I have threatened physical harm to any player or called players names like the demeaning terms that have been alleged is simply false. Many of the allegations made against me speak more to a style of coaching that might not be for everyone, but is not uncommon in college athletics. These accusations have come from a small number of players. Unfortunately, coaching often involves making difficult decisions that do not always please each individual player, but which are necessary for the betterment of the team as a whole.

The zeal and enthusiasm I have for my players and our team is evident to anyone who knows me or has taken the time to watch our team play. This is a Division I, Southeastern Conference program – one of the highest levels of the sport which I love to coach. I am passionate about coaching, teaching, and motivating my players to get the absolute best out of every player that I have the opportunity to coach.

I have high expectations for myself, my team and our players. It is my job to coach our athletes to perform to the best of their abilities. It is also important to coach, counsel, and mentor players not only in sports but in life - positioning them for success both on and off the court. I always strive to do my part to help build strong and successful students and athletes – helping to prepare them for the challenges they face now and in the future. As any parent knows, that always requires encouragement and sometimes requires tough, but fair, love.

I am humbled by the outpouring of support I am receiving from current and former players and coaches who have stepped up, publicly and privately, to talk about the Robby that they know – the real me. Their support and encouragement mean more to me than they will ever know, and I am honored to call them my family.

I have had the privilege of coaching more than 50 athletes during my tenure as the Head Volleyball Coach at the University of Arkansas. Many have gone on to be All-SEC and All-Americans, and others have gone on to play professionally at the highest levels. I am proud to be their coach and mentor, and even more so of the friendships I maintain with them today. Their success on and off the court is a true testament to the focus, effort, and teamwork we share as a Razorback family.”

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