Radford University baseball coach Karl Kuhn is the subject of an investigation being conducted by the university’s human resources department and the university’s office of institutional equity, according to two people who were interviewed by the school.
The two people asked The Roanoke Times in a joint phone interview to remain anonymous out of deference to the RU investigation.
One of the two people said he was interviewed the week of May 9 by Stephanie Smith, who is a compliance specialist for the office of institutional equity, and by Jenene Lewis, who is an employee relations manager for RU’s human resources department. He said he had a second interview with Lewis this past week.
The other person was interviewed this past week by Lewis and by Andrea Zuschin, who is the Title IX coordinator and director of diversity and equity in the RU office of institutional equity.
The RU investigation comes one year after members of the 2021 team complained about Kuhn to officials of the athletic department. The investigation also comes one year after former players complained about Kuhn to The Roanoke Times. But the athletic department stood by Kuhn last year.
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One of the people recently interviewed by the RU panel said he was told by investigators that the inquiry is in response to new allegations involving Kuhn related to this year. But he was told that the panel also was interested in learning about Kuhn’s actions at Radford in prior years. He was told that the panel was interviewing current players but also was interested in hearing from former players and from parents of current and former players.
That person said he was told by the investigators that they hoped to wrap up the investigation within a couple weeks and that the panel would then make a recommendation to the university about what to do about Kuhn.
That person said he also was told that no one from the athletic department is on the panel conducting the investigation.
Radford athletic director Robert Lineburg told The Roanoke Times in a May 11 text message that “whether or not any investigation is occurring as to any employee is a personnel matter and Radford University will not comment on personnel matters such as these.” Lineburg did not respond Friday to a text message seeking any additional comment.
The Roanoke Times sought comment from Kuhn by sending an email Friday to the baseball office, two members of the athletic communications office and deputy athletic director Cory Durand. The Roanoke Times did not receive a response.
Smith, Lewis and Zuschin were contacted by The Roanoke Times on Friday via email but did not respond.
Kuhn’s third season as the Highlanders’ baseball coach concluded Saturday when the team’s season finale at Campbell was halted by lightning in the third inning and eventually canceled.
Kuhn spent 16 seasons as the University of Virginia’s pitching coach before being hired as Radford’s head coach in August 2019. Radford is his first head-coaching job.
According to 2021 phone interviews by The Roanoke Times with 11 ex-Radford players who were on the team during the 2019-20 and/or 2020-21 school years, Kuhn created what they described as an atmosphere of mental and verbal abuse that occasionally turned physical. Players also had issues with the amount of fall practice hours. The players asked last year to remain anonymous.
Thirteen members of the 2021 team complained about Kuhn to Durand and associate athletic director for compliance Malinda Tasler in an April 2021 meeting, according to seven of the 11 ex-players interviewed by The Roanoke Times last year. Those seven were on the team at the time and were in that meeting. Players shared their stories of what they characterized as mental, verbal and physical abuse during that April 2021 meeting, telling the administration that Kuhn sometimes screamed and swore at them if he did not like what a player did in a game or practice.
The athletic department told The Roanoke Times in a written statement last year that allegations of various forms of abuse were “unfounded and categorically false.”
Kuhn said in a May 2021 interview with The Roanoke Times that he “would never put my hands on a young man” and that he was “not a screamer.”
Lineburg told The Roanoke Times in a May 2021 interview that he was “100% behind” Kuhn.
The Highlanders were 9-8 under Kuhn in the 2020 season before that season was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.
The team finished the 2021 season with a mark of 23-23 overall and 17-19 in the Big South.
Radford concluded this season with a record of 15-33 overall and 8-15 in the Big South.