UNIVERSITY of Santo Tomas coach Bong Dela Cruz is under investigation for a long line of maltreatment and violence committed against players in two seasons as the Tigers' coach, a team insider revealed to Spin.ph on Thursday.
Dela Cruz is facing allegations that he ordered two Team B players to kiss in the middle of the court in one practice, habitually threw basketballs at players during tantrums, and once taped the mouth of a senior guard inside the dugout in the course of a UAAP game in a scene witnessed by a UST priest, a source said.
The second-year coach is also caught in the middle of an incident where one senior player stands accused of 'bullying' a Team B player, allegedly on orders of a team star whose command was not followed by the rookie.
The youngster's father has since filed a complaint before school officials, the source said.
Just days after Spin.ph broke the story that Dela Cruz is on the way out as UST coach, athletic director Fr. Ermito De Sagon told school organ The Varsitarian that Dela Cruz is still the head coach pending the results of an investigation into a complaint which he did not specify.
Asked about the complaint, De Sagon declined to go into detail, only saying that it is related to the “basketball program in reference to the university’s policies.”
He added Dela Cruz has been asked to refrain from conducting practice but denied that he is under preventive suspension.
“I cannot call it a preventive suspension because we have not suspended him. What I am saying is that he cannot handle the practices until we have made a decision,” De Sagon told The Varsitarian.
“When there is an investigation, the usual thing is that they will not (perform their duties),” De Sagon added.
Sources revealed the investigation was sparked by a complaint by the parent of a Team B player who was punched twice in the gut by one senior member of the squad, supposedly on orders of a star.
The youngster was one of the Team B players who were ordered to dance butt naked in the locker room after practice and perform 'provocative acts.' The player refused, earning the star's ire, the source added.
“After practice, pumunta ‘yung Team B sa dugout, pinaghubad niya, pinasayaw. May nagreklamo, sinumbong sa office," the source said.
The player has since stayed away from the team because he was 'traumatized' by the experience, a team insider bared. His parents, meanwhile, are reportedly bent on filing a case in court if the school doesn't act on the matter.
The DSWD has also been notified about the matter since the incident involved a minor, the source added.
Most of the incidents of maltreatment committed against players during Dela Cruz's tenure have already been unearthed in the investigation being done by school officials, a second source confirmed.
But even before the investigation could finish, the school has indicated that it is bent on cleaning up its program following the complaints, so much so that it has ordered all the coaches and managers to stay away from practice which a member of the juniors coaching staff now runs in the meantime.
“Si Father (De Sagon) na mismo nagsabi. It’s not coach Bong’s team, it’s not coach Pido (Jarencio's) team. It’s the university’s team,” said the source.
The athletic director, the source added, also called for a meeting with the players, where he encouraged all of them to speak to high-ranking officials about any maltreatment that will happen in the future.
“Kinausap ni Father na ibigay daw ng mga players ‘yung mga profiles nila at sinabi niya na kahit verbal abuse lang, kahit sinabihan sila ng bobo, isumbong lang daw. Bawal sa UST ‘yun kasi ang basketball, 100 plus years lang. Ang UST, 400 years na, hindi nila hahayaang sirain ang pangalan ng school dahil sa basketball,” said the source.
“Kahit sa volleyball, iniba na nila Father. Sa volleyball dati, basta ikaw rookie, ikaw mag-aayos ng net at tsaka ‘yung poste. Bawal na,” the source added.
UST is still investigating the matter although it is becoming apparent the administration is not happy with the revelations, the source added.
“Iniimbestigahan pa. Nung nag-meeting, hindi siya (De Sagon) nagbigay ng detalye. Ang sabi lang niya, ayaw niya ng coach na nagtatapon ng bola, nagmumura, ayaw niya ‘yung mga player takot sa coach. Ayaw niya ‘yung ganun. Magsabi ka lang ng bobo, bawal ‘yun kahit may seniority,” said the source.
“Iniimbestigahan pa rin hanggang ngayon pero galit daw sila,” said the source. “Lahat ng mga coaches, bawal pumunta sa practice namin.”
Dela Cruz, when contacted by Spin.ph last week, denied he is no longer the coach of UST, saying it was the first time he had heard such news.