Daily Collegian Report: Players Allege Emotional Abuse By Women’s Hockey Coach Josh Brandwene

Several former women’s hockey players spoke out against head coach Josh Brandwene in a lengthy investigative report from The Daily Collegian today alleging mental and emotional abuse against them, which was reported to the university two years ago.

“It sounds so cliché, but he literally ruined hockey for me,” former player Birdie Shaw said. “I don’t have the passion to play anymore, and it’s sad to say because it’s been such an important part of my life.”

Shaw, along with four other current players, spoke on the record for the story. Players revealed to The Daily Collegian specific instances of the alleged “mind games” Brandwene subjected them to, such as making last-minute decisions regarding who would travel with the team along with vague, inconsistent reasons why that player might not be receiving ice time.

Shaw shared one instance in which Brandwene physically took her stick from her hand. “He knocked over my stick and he said, ‘Don’t worry, you won’t be needing that today. You won’t be using it at all,’ and then walked away,” Shaw told the Collegian. “It sounds so cliché, but he literally ruined hockey for me.”

Former player Katie Murphy says the type of emotional torture he’s put some of his players through would not be tolerated in the men’s game. “If this would’ve happened in the men’s program, there’s absolutely no way that this would ever stand,” Murphy told Collegian. “There’s no way this would happen in the men’s program ever.”

Brandwene, a Penn State alumnus and member of the school’s 1990 ACHA National Championship team, was hired by the Nittany Lions in May of 2011 prior to the team’s inaugural Division-I season. According to Collegian, the coach was held in high regard by then-Associate Athletic Director for Ice Arena & Hockey Operations Joe Battista, who was part of the team that hired him. Along with winning an ACHA National Championship, Brandwene was also elected to the Penn State Hockey Hall of Fame in 1996. He’s had a 40-90-15 record during his coaching career at Penn State.

Perhaps most damning in the report is the allegation that 13 former players went to Associate Athletics Director Charmelle Green in 2014 to speak out against Brandwene.

“I left that meeting thinking she had our best interest at heart,” Murphy told the Collegian, “and that ended up not being the case, considering she released all 13 of our names to coach Brandwene when we asked to remain anonymous several times.”

It’s an interesting story — one that would be easy to write off as sour grapes from players who were cut from the team — but it has enough sourcing, quotes, and allegations to be taken seriously (Penn State Athletics released a vague statement, which is included in the article). We recommend you read the full investigative report here.

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About the Author

David Abruzzese

David is a senior from Rochester, NY, nestled right in beautiful Western New York. He is majoring in Broadcast Journalism, and as an avid sports fan, he passionately supports the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres. He is the first Penn Stater from his family, and couldn’t be prouder to represent Penn State University. In his free time, he likes to alpine ski, and play golf. You can follow him on Twitter @abruz11, and can contact him via email at [email protected].

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