Following a string of recent departures from the women’s basketball team, junior guard Rateska Brown is planning to transfer from the university and says at least three other players will follow.
In an exclusive interview with The Temple News last week, Brown – the team’s leading returning scorer before this season – said she decided to leave after a meeting with coach Tonya Cardoza on March 17, in which Brown said she was told that she should transfer.
From Fall 2008 until before this past season, 10 expected returnees have left the team. Now, Brown is saying three other players, including sophomore forward Jacquilyn Jackson, will also transfer.
Brown outlined a locker room with inconsistent and uneven treatment by the coaching staff during her three-year tenure with the team.
Brown said she felt unwanted by some of her coaches and teammates after serving a suspension in 2013 for a violation of team rules, causing her to miss about two months of playing time. Both Brown and Jackson served the suspension, and returned in a game against St. Joseph’s University in November, but Jackson’s return was short-lived, as she was released in the weeks that followed.
Brown, Jackson and the team declined to specify the nature of the violation.
“I just thought it was going to be a fair season next year where everyone gets to work hard,” Brown said, referring to what she perceives as preferential treatment by the Owls’ coaching staff. “Whoever is the best at it gets to start, but I had doubts about next year. I had doubts that I was even going to come back, which I’m not.”
Despite Brown’s prolonged suspension, the Owls’ three-point shooter redeemed herself on the court by being a valuable sixth player, competing in 24 games, averaging 7.8 points and 2.3 rebounds en route to earning the American Athletic Conference’s Sixth Player of the Year award. From the outside looking in, Brown was fully-expected to return as an impact performer for the Owls next season, but Brown said she felt animosity from Cardoza.
“I did what I had to do,” Brown said. “I had to do endless hours of community service. I did my time, and when I got back I felt like if I didn’t do my time and there were still grudges, then maybe you should tell me why am I still here. I just didn’t see my purpose in being here when I came back.”
Even with those feelings, Brown’s decision to transfer wasn’t cemented until after the March 17 meeting with Cardoza.
According to Brown, Cardoza said the recruitment of three freshmen guards – Tanaya Atkinson, Khadijah Berger and Alliya Butts – would have limited Brown’s minutes next season, her senior year.
“So, I was told that I should transfer because I’m probably not going to be happy,” Brown said. “I looked at it like, ‘I’m going to be your senior.’ So, you’re going to tell me that three other freshmen – you’re bringing other people in – basically saying, ‘Hey, they’re better than you. I don’t want you,’ even though I’m going to be a senior.”
“I was like, ‘I’m definitely leaving, even if I had doubts, because I’m about to be a senior and you’re telling me this as if I just came in,’” Brown added. “It’s not like I haven’t been here for three years.”
Following her meeting with Cardoza, where Brown said she was under the impression that she was no longer on the team, Brown said she continued to be contacted to participate in physicals.
There has been no announcement of Brown’s potential move, or the move of the two other Owls, whose names Brown would not disclose.
In a statement, Cardoza declined to comment, citing a policy not to discuss internal team matters. The team confirmed it has granted Brown’s request to contact other schools, but wouldn’t discuss other potential transfers.
The Owls flourished early in Cardoza’s tenure, but in the last two seasons, the team has been marred by losing seasons and a number of transferring athletes. Brown said the departure of some players was due to unhappiness with the culture of the program.
In Cardoza’s first four seasons at the helm for Temple, the Owls enjoyed four consecutive 20-plus win seasons, including three NCAA tournament berths. Whether because of transferring or other reasons, in that span, seven players – Alesha Harris, Lindsay Kimmel, Reese Fields, Satoria Bell, Ryia Newsome, Brittany Lewis and Nikki Works – did not complete their eligibility with Temple.
In the last two seasons, both ending in 14-win losing years, four freshmen – Sally Kabengano, Jaquilyn Jackson, May Dayan and Leah Horton – did not return to Temple to finish their careers with the Owls.
While players like Dayan left for personal reasons, Brown said others like Jackson and Horton were dismissed from the team. Brown said she believes even the dismissed players weren’t happy with the Owls before their release.
“If [the coaching staff] were to ask me if I wanted to come back, I would’ve said, ‘No,’” Jackson said. “I just can’t be a part of it anymore. Mentally and emotionally, it’s just too much to deal with.”
Following her dismissal earlier this year, Jackson said she will look to transfer from Temple and play basketball elsewhere. Brown said her own decision to transfer is long overdue.
“I’ve wanted to transfer since [freshman year] because I heard about so many things that I’m going through now,” Brown said. “I heard so many stories from the upperclassmen.”
Brown declined to elaborate on the content of those stories or say who the upperclassmen were.
“[Cardoza] said she would help me look for some schools, but I’m not really banking on that,” Brown said. “I just didn’t feel like people were going to put that good of a word for me or help my career. As far as transferring, I think she made a good decision in telling me rather than dragging me along, but I didn’t really get why she wanted me to transfer. I just felt like it was something personal. Like she had a vendetta against me since I got here.”
Brien Edwards can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BErick1123