Sunday, October 25, 2020

MSU softball coaching staff under investigation after player-raised allegations

June 17, 2015
<p>Junior outfielder Alyssa McBride dives for the ball during the game against Michigan on April 13, 2014, at Secchia Stadium at Old College Field. The Spartans were shut out by the Wolverines, 14-0. Danyelle Morrow/The State News</p>

Junior outfielder Alyssa McBride dives for the ball during the game against Michigan on April 13, 2014, at Secchia Stadium at Old College Field. The Spartans were shut out by the Wolverines, 14-0. Danyelle Morrow/The State News

Photo by Danyelle Morrow | The State News

After a disappointing season in which the MSU softball team finished 19-36, recent allegations from Alyssa McBride who just wrapped up her senior season have surrounded the team with even more questions.

According to a story from The Detroit News, McBride alleged that assistant coach Jessica Bograkos targeted her with pitches during batting practice after word got back to the coaching staff that she told a reporter in a situation she believed to be off the record that she wished she had played somewhere else due to the amount of losing she had endured in her time as a Spartan.

The team went 66-140 in McBride's time at MSU and she played in 203 of those 206 games— starting in 197.

MSU spokesperson Jason Cody provided The State News with a statement from the university regarding the alleged activity.

“MSU is aware of the allegations made concerning a former student-athlete in the softball program," the statement read. "We take all allegations involving our students very seriously. In addition to an investigation by MSU Police, who turned their report over to prosecutors, MSU has brought in an external, independent law firm, Miller Canfield, to conduct an internal investigation as well."

Bograkos, a former Spartan Softball player and pitcher, was enshrined in the Greater Lansing Sports Hall of Fame in the summer of 2014.

According to the Detroit News story, head coach Jacquie Joseph gave Bograkos the thumbs up to target McBride.

In the midst of the investigation into this incident a statement came out on behalf of Joseph from her attorney Shirlee Bobryk of White, Schneider, Young & Chiodini.

"The allegations against me are categorically untrue. I have cooperated fully with investigators for the Michigan State Police and MSU police department— and will cooperate with the university's independent investigators, as well— in hopes of resolving this situation and restoring my reputation as quickly as possible," Joseph said in the statement. "Until the legal process concludes, I am unable to personally respond to the hundreds of calls and emails I have received from coaches and former students, so at this time I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation for all the support."

The statement ends with Bobryk urging people not to jump to conclusions as Joseph has never been subject to "even a minor disciplinary action" and that Joseph will not be answering questions from media about this until further notice per Bobryk's suggestion.

The Detroit News has since come out with another story alleging that MSU softball student manager Ben Hayden told his fellow manager Austin Krus about a conversation he had heard on the team bus between Joseph and Bograkos "while sitting in the third row of the bus on the way to the game, he overheard Joseph say, twice, to Bograkos, 'You can hit her.'"

The Detroit News exclusively obtained the police report of the incident and shared images of said report in the story. 

The police report states that sophomore Dani Goranson witnessed the incident and that she thought it was strange that McBride was hit twice in such a short period of time, especially considering that Bograkos is normally an accurate pitcher. 

Goranson's father James, who was at one of the games in which the alleged targeting took place according to the police report, told authorities he did not see anything unusual with the pitch, but he was surprised at the lack of a reaction from the coaching staff when she was hit.

Visit statenews.com for updates on the investigation as they happen.

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