Harvard has not publicly responded to allegations of abusive behavior by Harvard women’s ice hockey head coach Katey Stone reported in a Boston Globe investigation Friday.
The Globe reported that 16 former players, including former captains, voiced complaints about Stone’s inappropriate comments and behavior — alleging she has “denigrated” players “in ways that made them demoralized, anxious, confused, or seeking mental health support.”
The Globe’s report contains accounts from players who claim Stone was insensitive to players’ mental health issues and downplayed injuries. Stone faced a monthslong formal review in 2022 — after she allegedly made discriminatory remarks following a disappointing game — but remained in place as head coach.
Stone did not respond to a request for comment regarding the allegations.
In an email sent to the women’s ice hockey team and its affiliates on Jan. 18 — prior to the publication of the article — Stone addressed the impending report and said she has “tried to consistently listen to suggestions and accept feedback” from players and Harvard Athletics.
“This year, I have made it a priority as your coach to acknowledge and respond to direct feedback from the women in my program about my coaching style, and make concerted effort to better support my players’ experiences,” Stone wrote.
“With that goal in mind, I have sought to strengthen my communications and engagement skills,” she added.
Ahead of the article’s publication, 46 team alumni wrote a letter to Robert T. Hohler — the Globe journalist who investigated Stone — offering their contact information in order to give a “broader and more complete picture of players’ experiences.”
“We respect every person’s individual right to communicate their story and their truth, and the importance of doing so for one’s own healing, as well as to promote positive change,” the alumni wrote in an email obtained by The Crimson.
After her team’s first-round loss to Princeton in the Eastern College Athletic Conference playoffs, Stone allegedly went on a “degrading and dispiriting” tirade, describing the group as a team “with too many chiefs and not enough Indians.”
Maryna G. Macdonald ’23, a starting player from the Ditidaht First Nation of Canada’s Vancouver Island, told the Globe that Stone looked directly at Macdonald when she made the remark.
After Stone’s remarks, Macdonald reported her to Harvard Athletics, and Stone soon apologized to the team, according to the Globe.
In an April 8, 2022, email obtained by The Crimson, Harvard Athletics Director Erin McDermott shared with members of the team a plan for a formal review of Stone, referencing a recent meeting and “conflict.”
“The greater understanding that we have from different people will best inform any next steps that we identify, with the aim of improving your experience, whether that’s athletically or academically, or both,” McDermott wrote. “We are using this opportunity to take a ‘deeper dive’ into your experience and be as helpful as possible in the end.”
After a monthslong administrative review, McDermott sent an email on July 19 to the team with the subject line “Onward and Upward,” writing, “Coach Stone is our head coach and will remain our head coach.”
“The findings of the review affirm that decision while also identifying opportunities for improvement, particularly with communication across several areas,” McDermott added.
Macdonald ultimately left the team, along with Taze E. Thompson, a descendant of the Cree Nation of Alberta, Canada, who was named the 2021-22 Ivy League Rookie of the Year. Thompson transferred to Northeastern University following the 2021-2022 season.
Macdonald and Thompson are just two of the 14 recruited athletes who have quit the team since 2016, according to the Globe’s investigation.
The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations — an organization representing 74 First Nations in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan — publicly called for Stone’s resignation on Tuesday and sent a letter to Harvard Athletics demanding her removal as head coach.
“Racism has no place in our society or locker rooms. A place where we entrusted our First Nations young women would be free from abuse and racism,” FSIN Third Vice Chief Aly Bear said in a statement.
“This abuse should not be tolerated by any university, especially a highly regarded institution such as Harvard University,” she added. “I truly hope Harvard will stand with the Indigenous students and protect future students from this type of racist behaviour.”
Sydney Daniels ’17, a member of the Mistawasis Nehiyawak First Nation of Saskatchewan, left her position as assistant coach and filed a complaint against Harvard for alleged racial and other forms of discrimination related to Stone and the athletics department, according to the Globe.
The Globe also reported that Stone has been accused of exhibiting “little tolerance for those confronting emotional challenges,” allegedly telling a former team leader who was receiving mental health care to “toughen up and not be a burden to your teammates.”
Harvard spokesperson Rachael Dane declined to comment on the allegations against Stone, citing Harvard Athletics policy against commenting on personnel matters, but said athletes are made aware of processes for filing complaints at the start of each academic year.
“Student-Athletes initiate a process by reaching out to their respective sport administrator via email or scheduling a meeting, if they have complaints,” Dane wrote. “An appropriate process follows of interviews with affected individuals.”
“Decisions are made in consultation with Harvard administrative offices when necessary of how to move forward,” she added.
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