When Jacquilyn Jackson showed up for practice on Dec. 30 and got word that coach Tonya Cardoza wanted to see her, she had a funny feeling that it would be her last meeting with the coach.
“I was at practice in the gym and one of the assistants came and told me [Cardoza] wanted me,” Jackson said. “I kind of had a feeling.”
Jackson’s meeting with the sixth-year coach confirmed her suspicions, as Cardoza informed the sophomore forward that she was dismissed from the team for reasons that Jackson said she still does not understand.
“The reason was really unclear to me,” Jackson said. “I couldn’t explain that part. It wouldn’t make any sense to you because it didn’t make any sense to me.”
“Jacquilyn Jackson was dismissed from the Temple University women’s basketball team on Dec. 30, 2013, for violations of team rules,” the team said in a statement. The team said there would be no further comment.
The decision ended a tumultuous two-month stretch for Jackson that began when she and Owls junior guard Rateska Brown were suspended on Nov. 5 for violating team rules. Jackson declined to comment on the reason for the suspension.
Both players returned to active duty prior to the Owls’ Big 5 clash with St. Joseph’s University on Dec. 4, and it was Jackson who saw playing time at forward with five rebounds in 10 minutes.
While Brown has settled in with quality minutes as the Owls’ sixth man since returning to action, posting 7.8 points per game, Jackson sat for the Owls’ next five games before her eventual dismissal.
Despite the initial suspension, Jackson felt she could have been played more than the 10 minutes of action she saw against the Hawks.
“I wasn’t really happy, and there were a lot of decisions Cardoza made that I didn’t agree with,” Jackson said. “I felt that I should have played in times that I didn’t. It doesn’t make sense for me not to play and you’re still losing. That’s still hard for me to grasp.”
“Last year was a little different,” Jackson added. “If I didn’t play last year I would’ve understood. We had [Victoria Macaulay] and we had [now-senior forward Natasha Thames]. If I didn’t play last year I could understand why. But I feel like the playing time could have been shared more this year than last, especially in my position.”
Even with the standout Macaulay and a consistent starter in Thames, Jackson still saw 11.1 minutes per game last season with 1.4 points per game and two rebounds per game.
“I feel like it’s a lot of coaching toward how you feel about people instead of coaching toward talent,” Jackson said. “It’s like being a part of a team where there’s an ulterior goal and I don’t know what it is. It’s too much for me to think about instead of just playing D-I basketball.”
The events surrounding the suspension and the subsequent benching game in and game out created a situation that, had she not been let go from the team, she would not have returned to next year, Jackson said.
“As far as everything goes, I’m relieved,” Jackson said. “I wasn’t really happy with the program. If I wasn’t released, I probably wouldn’t have stayed anyway.”
While Jackson said she will play out the remainder of the academic year at Temple, the Gaithersburg, Md., native said she is looking to transfer after this year and play at a school within a manageable distance from home, but preferably still in the Philadelphia area.
As for her time at Temple, she said she’s simply moved on.
“Eventually I accepted it,” Jackson said. “I’m at peace with it. If they were to ask me if I wanted to come back, I would’ve said no. I just can’t be a part of it anymore. Mentally and emotionally, it’s just too much to deal with.”
Andrew Parent can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @daParent93.