UC Riverside coach resigns amid abuse inquiry

UC Riverside women's basketball coach John Margaritis resigned Friday after being put on leave without pay the day before.

The school was about to start a second investigation into allegations of verbal and emotional abuse toward student-athletes by Margaritis. He had been given a 20-day unpaid suspension earlier this summer after a previous investigation regarding the allegations.

The only assistant still on staff, Seyram Bell, has been named interim head coach. UC Riverside athletic director Tamica Smith Jones released a statement to the Press-Enterprise in Riverside, California, saying the search for a new head coach would begin soon.

Another UC Riverside assistant, former Washington player Giuliana Mendiola, was let go this summer. 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 petition on change.org in support of Mendiola had received 969 signatures as of 7 p.m. PT on Saturday.

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

Former UC Riverside player Inara Nyingifa told the Press-Enterprise on Friday that she thinks the school's athletic administration also needs to be held accountable.

"The administration that he was working for, and the administration that supported all he was doing, is still there," she said. "So what's stopping the same thing from happening again, when the people who were supposed to hold him accountable are still there?

Nyingifa went on to say, "I feel like it wasn't the athletic department that put pressure on him. It was everybody [telling] what happened in the past to the media that put pressure on the school. It got to the point where he realized the school was going to fire him if he didn't step down."