Kelley L. Coz / USA TODAY Sports

Petition in support of Cuonzo Martin in wake of Yann Hufnagel sexual harassment scandal has reached high levels

Petition started by Cal fans has reached Mike Williams and the University of California Office of the President, sources say.

When California head men's basketball coach Cuonzo Martin left Tennessee, it was in the wake of a petition, signed by 36,000 Volunteers basketball fans, to rid Knoxville of Martin’s coaching. Now, Martin has a petition on his side. “I think that we had seen a lot of gnashing of teeth and roaring of roars after last week,” said booster Erik Bruvold, who originally circulated the petition to retain Martin on on Tuesday, a petition that, as of 3 p.m., on Wednesday, had 772 supporters. “Seeing media reports about turmoil in the program, and what-have you, I talked to a few other people, and we thought that it would be useful to have a forum and a way for folks to express support for Cuonzo, and this was a venue which provided the means.”

After a season in which the Bears landed two top-five recruits in Ivan Rabb and Jaylen Brown, returned to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013 and went 18-0 at home -- all while posting an anticipated 1000 academic progress rating, according to a University source -- Martin is in the midst of a review of his reporting actions in a sexual harassment reporting process that led to the firing of assistant Yann Hufnagel, and, according to sources, he may be looking into other options.

“Over the past several days, we have received an overwhelming amount of support for Coach Martin,” athletic department spokesman Wes Mallette said. “That support is appreciated, and we are working to resolve this issue as quickly as possible."

The petition, sources indicated, has reached not only Athletic Director Mike Williams, but also the University of California Office of the President.

Bruvold -- who works as a social science researcher for National University in San Diego, Calif. -- was joined in writing the petition by several other stakeholders, and addressed the petition to Williams, as well as UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks.

The Department of Intercollegiate Athletics does not investigate or review such cases on its own. That is done by the University. Investigations are undertaken by the Department for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination, which produced the report leading to Hufnagel's ouster.

"To dispel any doubts about Coach Martin's role, the University will be initiating a review of all of the documents and communications related to his actions," Williams said last week. "We firmly believe the results will support our confidence in Coach Martin."

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr -- whose son, Nick Kerr -- was a graduate transfer with Cal this season -- recently tweeted his compliments to Martin and the program.

According to a source, Martin's contract -- he's currently working off of his term sheet from when he was hired in 2014 -- is being held up, pending the conclusion of the University's review of his role in reporting the harassment -- what he knew, when he knew it, and when he reported it.

"I think it was an effort that had a number of people," Bruvold said of the genesis of the petition, which seeks to serve as a way for the powers that be to hear from fans who want the contract executed, and for Martin to continue as Cal's head coach. "One donor and longtime season ticket holder penned a letter, specifically to AD Williams, and I used that as a way to fill up the white page, so I didn't have to start from scratch. Then, an individual who works in Title IX issues at another university helped pen some specifics about how the law and Title IX rules and guidelines have changed, even over the last couple of years."

Bruvold's father taught at Cal for the better part of three decades, and, he said, "many of my earliest memories were spent at Harmon [Gym] and California Memorial Stadium." He said that he feels a lifelong affiliation with the Bears, despite not having matriculated from Berkeley. In the petition, Bruvold states that Martin has “conducted himself in ways that exemplify the very best of the University and its proud traditions.”

Sources say that "nobody in the Athletic Department disagrees," with that assessment of Martin. The petition, one source says, has the support of the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics.

"I would say that it was important for us to make sure that fans had an opportunity, and supporters had an opportunity, to voice their concerns," Bruvold said. "I think what we saw after Friday of last week was a lot of things being communicated by the media, in terms of what the sentiments were, out there, and we thought that it was important for fans to have a direct voice in this conversation."

Bruvold specifically cites the recruitment by Martin of Brown, who took and passed a graduate-level course in his first semester at Berkeley as one of the reasons for retaining Martin.

"I think what we looked at was the totality of the resumé in terms of how he's acting as a leader and a molder of young men," Bruvold said. "I think it speaks tremendously to the program that they can go out and get a recruit who, on his own, and from all accounts, successfully takes a grad-level seminar. I think that you only need to look at the interviews that our players give, in terms of their humility, their well-spokenness, their excellence as representatives of the University and of the program, to see the kinds of individuals that Cuonzo's bringing in to the program, and then, the kinds of individuals that he's helping mold.

"I think that it is relatively unique for coaches to take time away from practicing on the court to spend time with their players talking about life challenges, and how to approach those, that are far apart from basketball. To us, and to the people that we spoke to, that stands as testimony to the kind of leader that we want to have guiding the program." Martin, according to the redacted report released by the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination, called the Complainant– a female reporter covering Cal basketball – on May 23, 2015, in which, Martin said, the complainant did not provide “any details or described anything as constituting sexual harassment.”

The Complainant said that “she told [Martin] that she “experienced sexual harassment from [Respondent],”” during that phone call.

However, the Complainant said, in that same statement, that she “did not have the opportunity to detail the information to Witness I at the time.” On May 25, Martin said that he and Hufnagel were to meet in the morning. Following that meeting, Hufnagel attempted to contact the Complainant, at Martin’s behest, to apologize.

On July 5, the Complainant emailed Martin to provide him with text exchanges between her and Hufnagel, and went on to detail the harassment, beginning: “I wanted to continue our dialogue in regard to [Respondent]. I only briefly touched upon the extent of his harassment of me in our two conversations.”

"We've read the redacted report, and from reading that, absolutely [he acted correctly]," Bruvold said. 

Martin was interviewed by one of the investigators on Oct. 23, 2015 – nearly four months after he elevated the matter to OPHD, the day following the receipt of the email.

That was the same day that the Respondent – Hufnagel – met with OPHD to give his statement.

“Given the report took eight months to generate,” Bruvold’s petition states, “the fact that Coach Martin is now being separately investigated strikes us as both unnecessary and short sighted. The individual who was affected by Coach Hufnagel’s behavior was not forthcoming of details when she first reached out and upon learning those details Coach Martin took immediate and proper steps.”

It is germane to this timeline to note that the reporting process at Berkeley for sexual harassment on campus must go through the Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination, with three people, according to a source in the administration, currently handling 26 sexual harassment investigations, at an institution of over 35,000 students and 1,620 full-time faculty, with just three full-time investigators.

It is also of note that the University released the redacted version of the report within hours of Intercollegiate Athletics delivering the notice of intent to terminate Hufnagel. It is particularly notable given that public records requests to the University by this website on other Intercollegiate Athletics matters have taken weeks -- and even months -- to fulfill. 

Additionally, before the scandal broke, it had been two years (and longer, since), that Martin has been working on a term sheet contract, as opposed to a standard long-form contract, which has to be approved by three levels of bureaucracy -- the Campus, the UC Office of the President, and the UC Regents -- after signed off on by Williams.

A source confirmed to BearTerritory that Martin’s contract is only missing approval from the University of California Office of the President. All other parties have signed.

Also of note, it took 11 months for the University to hire Mike Williams as the full-time Athletic Director.

The blame for the delay in the implementation of the findings of the report, and in the reporting itself, would then seem to be squarely laid at the feet of the larger University process.

The timing of the release of the Hufnagel report – right before the start of the NCAA Tournament – is also notable. Though unrelated, after the report on Hufnagel dropped, the Bears lost the services of senior point guard Tyrone Wallace to a broken hand, and then, on the day of Cal's first-round game against No. 13-seeded Hawaii, junior Jabari Bird went down with back spasms. The No. 4-seeded Bears lost, 77-66. On the Friday before the findings of the report were released, and Hufnagel fired -- March 11 -- UC President Janet Napolitano, in a letter sent to UC chancellors, ordered the institution of a peer review committee with representatives from across all UC campuses that would assess all proposed sexual misconduct sanctions against senior leaders, and issued new sexual violence and sexual harassment prevention and response measures, in the wake of three other UC sexual harassment scandals.

That letter read, in part, “When claims (of sexual misconduct) are substantiated, we must hold people accountable and impose sanctions that appropriately reflect the seriousness of these cases.”

On that day, Napolitano fired resigned UC Berkeley vice chancellor of research Graham Fleming from his role as a Berkeley Global Campus ambassador. Fleming had been removed from his original post in 2015 amid sexual harassment allegations, before being reassigned to the post as the Global Campus ambassador. Fleming had remained a tenured chemistry professor — a position he still holds — after his initial resignation, but then took a yearlong sabbatical before becoming an ambassador for Global Campus.

That firing happened in light of Napolitano’s conversation with UC Berkeley chancellor Nicholas Dirks in regards to Sujit Choudhry’s resignation that Thursday from his post as UC Berkeley School of Law dean in the wake of his own sexual harassment scandal.

It took months for those removals to happen.

Fleming resigned as Vice Chancellor in April of 2015, amid the sexual harassment reports. He was not fired until March of 2016. Choudhry stepped down eight months after a campus investigation found that he had violated the sexual harassment policy, and that resignation came just two days after those allegations became public in light of a lawsuit by his former assistant.

Additionally, in June, campus astronomy Professor Geoffrey Marcy was determined to have violated the sexual harassment policy -- touching and groping four women, including students -- for over nine years. It wasn't until a science reporter from BuzzFeed News broke the story on Oct. 9 that Marcy resigned. Top Stories