Riverside coach on leave amid 2nd investigation

UC Riverside women's basketball coach John Margaritis was placed on leave without pay Thursday, according to a report in the Press-Enterprise in Riverside, California. The school reportedly will be doing a second investigation into allegations of verbal and emotional abuse toward student-athletes.

Margaritis had been placed on a 20-day unpaid suspension earlier this summer after a previous investigation about the allegations. The only assistant still on staff, Seyram Bell, has been named active head coach while Margaritis is on leave.

Another UC Riverside assistant, former Washington player Giuliana Mendiola, was let go this summer after seven seasons with the program. Several former players then began to speak out on social media and with various news organizations, protesting what happened to Mendiola and calling for further investigation into the program. A Change.org petition in support of Mendiola has received 967 signatures.

A lengthy article in The Highlander newspaper in August detailed numerous allegations against Margaritis in regard to his treatment of student-athletes.

UC Riverside athletics director Tamica Smith Jones released a statement Thursday to the Press-Enterprise in regard to the new investigation, saying, "I believe this decision is necessary for the benefit of the women's basketball program and our student-athletes. Our priority is building a culture and environment where our student-athletes have a rewarding experience both on and off the court."

Jones did not provide any other comments or answer if the school's initial investigation uncovered the allegations that were detailed in The Highlander article and that have been shared on social media.

Mendiola spoke earlier this week with ESPN.com about her ongoing concern for the well-being of the UC Riverside players.

"I think they did not do a complete investigation," Mendiola said of the school's initial probe into Margaritis. "I'm not just fighting for my reputation, I'm fighting for the young women still there. There needs to be a change."