Three players leave women’s hoops team

Aaron Kirscht

Former Gophers women’s basketball player Lynda Hass said “personality conflicts” with the coaching staff led to her decision to ask women’s athletics director Chris Voelz for a release from her scholarship.
“Things happened that I don’t agree with,” Hass said. “I don’t want to say I was forced out, because it was my decision. But I really felt that I had no choice.”
Hass, a junior, was one of three players, including junior Sarah Klun and sophomore Kiauna Burns to leave the team. Burns, Klun and Voelz were unavailable for comment. First-year coach Cheryl Littlejohn is at the women’s Final Four in Kansas City, Mo., and is expected to discuss the departures this week.
Earlier this month, all three players asked Voelz for their releases separately, and, according to Hass, for varying reasons.
Littlejohn’s motivational style, which Hass said “didn’t click” with her, is believed to be a primary reason for the departures. Hass confirmed that Littlejohn had at times threatened to pull players’ scholarships.
“I think that inhibited the performances of some of us,” Hass said. “It’s hard to have that hanging over your head.”
Hass, Burns and Klun were part of the group of seven players — along with senior Angie Iverson and three freshmen — who were caught with alcohol and suspended at the end of the regular season. But Hass said the punishment, which forced those seven players to the sidelines for the first game of the Big Ten tournament, wasn’t a factor in her decision.
“That was a mistake that I and a few of my teammates made,” Hass said, “and we paid for that. There were things prior to that that were causing me to be unhappy.”
Hass said she doesn’t plan to stop playing basketball, and might consider a transfer to one of several schools Division II schools, possibly in the North Central Conference.
When Littlejohn was hired on April 10, 1997, the players were confident they would improve on the 4-24 record from the season before. But Littlejohn’s arrival on campus made little impact in the win column, as the Gophers finished with a 4-23 record.
“We started losing some games and got those thoughts, `Here we go again,'” Hass said. “I know we have to try to fight off those feelings from the past, but this is my third year and it’s basically been three identical seasons in a row. I think a repeat was probably in the back of our minds.”
But Hass said she had no ill feelings toward Littlejohn or her teammates.
“She’s just got to keep on going,” Hass said. “I wish my team the best of luck. They’re my team, they’ll always be my team, even if I can’t be there.”