Just a few months ago, when Auburn softball was mentioned, a barrage of incredible, program-defining moments would flood the mind of a fan.
The Tigers capturing their first SEC titles in program history in back-to-back seasons, in both instances receiving bids to the Women’s College World Series.
Tiffany Howard’s incredible outfield snare against Oklahoma in the 2016 title game, coupled with Emily Carosone’s walk-off grand slam to erase a seven-run hole. Amid those, Auburn’s first trip to the WCWS National Championship.
More recently, vengeance against No. 1 Oklahoma, when Auburn took down the defending champs on Opening Day in Mexico.
Kaylee Carlson’s perfect game against Ohio State down in South Florida. Carlson’s overall dominance in the circle.
The entirety of the Kasey Cooper era, capped off with a record-shattering 2017 campaign by the Dothan, Ala. native.
The first sweep of Georgia in Athens in the Tigers’ history. The first series win in Tuscaloosa.
Carlee Wallace’s walk-off grand slam to beat Mississippi State, coming on the heels of a tumultuous few weeks in the program.
Surrounding those memories was the feeling that something was off. Something was very, very wrong.
Unofficially and unfortunately, we now know why. Over the weekend, ESPN released a 14-page report detailing a former Auburn softball player’s accusation of sexual harassment and abuse against the program.
Per ESPN, the young women of Auburn softball were subjected to harassment by assistant coach Corey Myers. Myers “pursued relations with multiple members of the team,” and head coach Clint Myers knowingly allowed such actions to continue.
In the middle of the 2017 season, Corey Myers resigned to “focus on his family.” The tail-end of the season erupted with multiple players leaving the program, including catcher Carlee Wallace, infielder Laney Joyner, shortstop Whitney Jordan and infielder Emily Spain.
Pitcher Alexa Nemeth was cut from the team by Clint Myers following the conclusion of the season. Nemeth then filed the Title IX to Auburn University, specifying her concerns about the school’s efforts to cover up the scandal.
Disturbing is not nearly a vast enough description to encompass the actions of the accused. The Myers family’s actions alone are enough to disgust any sensible person; however, it is the alleged cover-up by the athletic department that is truly haunting.
According to the report, Auburn associate athletic director Meredith Jenkins quarantined the team prior to its trip to Athens, Ga. for a series with the Bulldogs. In a meeting, Jenkins threatened the players with arrest for exposing their proof of Corey Myers’ relations with a member of the team to Clint Myers. Jenkins ordered the team to delete the evidence.
The details of Corey Myers’ harassment of the players can be described as implausible and scarring. Former shortstop Haley Fagan claims that the athletic department did little to back the team.
“Coach and Corey, the way they were, it was always our fault,” Fagan said. “It was our fault if the story got out, it was our fault that Corey had to leave. Everybody protected Coach. Nobody protected us."
The Myers should be denounced as members of the Auburn family. To call them Auburn men would be inaccurate, as the pair does not embody our university’s morals and servant leadership mentality. The higher-ups that worked to throw a blanket over the truth are no different.
These allegations do nothing to affect those memories that Auburn fans hold of their precious softball team, however. Kasey Cooper is still one of the greatest players in NCAA history, Clint Myers still turned the program into a powerhouse and the teams of recent years are still champions.
As explained in the ESPN report, Nemeth now feels vindicated. When Clint Myers retired abruptly, she “started jumping up and down.” If even a portion of the team felt the same despicable stranglehold, they are now free.
The fact that the program continued to accomplish amazing feats on the field is incredible. When the 2018 season begins, no matter who takes over on the coaching staff, the Auburn Softball Tigers are still a team that can attain greatness.
No woman should ever have to endure the treatment that these players did. These are the daughters of the Auburn family, and should be fiercely protected as such. Seeing as the ones we rely on to handle such instances are incapable of doing so, it falls on the shoulders of the rest of their family on The Plains.
Of their own accord, the Myers and all involved should never be allowed within 100 miles of our campus. It is difficult to measure the magnitude of their betrayal, however it is easy to act against it. It’s on us to fight back and protect against malicious intent. It’s on us to shower Tigers softball with love, support and passion that will heal the Auburn family.