Less than 1 year ago, the Howard University Football team welcomed a new head coach, Ron Prince. An official university communication shares:

“Prince brings a wealth of experience to Howard. Most recently, he was the offensive analyst for the University of Michigan Wolverines. The Big Ten team ended the regular season with a 10-2 record. The Wolverines were No. 1 in the conference in third-down conversions, time of possession and offensive turnovers.”

In the past few weeks, a handful of players have quit the team, issuing public statements.

This includes quarterback Caylin Newton, younger brother of Cameron Newton of the NFL’s Carolina Panthers:

In October, a parent of the a member of the Howard University Football Team said they sent the following letter to the university’s president:

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.—Concerned Parent 

The university just released this statement from the desk of Athletic Director Kery Davis:

Howard University is committed to completing our internal investigation of the allegations involving concerns about the football program. As a result of our continuing investigation, the University has decided to place Head Football Coach Ron Prince on administrative leave effective immediately. Director of Football Operations Aaron Kelton will serve as the interim coach until further notice. Howard University is committed to ensuring our athletic programs reflect Howard’s core mission and values and to ensuring the well-being and success of all student athletes.

What is going on? What could drive away Caylin Newton and other athletes from an NCAA D1 program?

Hopefully the internal investigation finds the source of the problem and allows the team to get back to business.

The Bison Football Team’s current record is 1-8.