The NWSL has completed its investigation into Orlando Pride Head Coach Amanda Cromwell and Assistant Coach Sam Greene. The results found that Cromwell and Greene were in violation of the NWSL’s policy against workplace misconduct and their contracts have been terminated by the league, effective immediately.
The joint investigation found that charges of verbal abuse and improper favoritism were substantiated and that both Cromwell and Greene were engaging in “retaliatory conduct towards players who they believed had initiated, participated in, and were supportive of the March investigation.” As a result, the Pride will be searching for the team’s next permanent head coach.
Public acknowledgement of an investigation came in June when the Pride placed Cromwell and Greene on administrative leave. Assistant Coach Michelle Akers and Goalkeeping Coach Aline Reis took personal time off for the remainder of the season. As a result, Assistant Coach Seb Hines, who was on staff prior to Cromwell’s arrival and the only coach to remain on the job, took over as the interim manager with assistance from Giles Barnes and Miguel Gallardo. Barnes served as an interim assistant while Gallardo was coaching on a voluntary basis. The interim staff continued coaching the team for the remainder of the 2022 NWSL season.
According to the report, allegations of verbal abuse and improper favoritism by Cromwell and allegations of improper favoritism by Greene were initially reported in March 2022. Since some of those were substantiated by the NWSL/NWSLPA joint investigative team, Cromwell and Greene received written warnings at the time. Additionally, Cromwell was required to participate in leadership training.
In May, the joint investigative team received reports that Cromwell and Greene were engaging in retaliatory conduct towards players they believed had initiated the original complaints or were supportive of the March investigation. These claims were also substantiated by the joint investigative team.
The investigation revealed that Cromwell and Greene discouraged reporting to the league and “fostered a general fear of retaliation.” The coaches took negative action against players by seeking to trade or waive them. Additionally, Reis failed to fully cooperate with the investigation, including pressuring players to share favorable information with the investigators.
In June, Cromwell, Greene, Reis, and Akers complained that they were subjected to various forms of misconduct. A third-party investigation looked into these claims and found that they were unsubstantiated.
As a result of the findings, Cromwell and Greene have been terminated and the pair will not be able to work in the NWSL unless they are approved by the league commissioner. To re-enter the league, they will have to take part in mandatory training regarding retaliation, discrimination, harassment, and bullying and must participate in mandatory executive coaching. They will only be considered for reinstatement after completing these mandatory trainings, acknowledge wrongdoing, and “demonstrating a sincere commitment to modifying their behavior.”
For her part, Reis has been placed on unpaid administrative leave, effective immediately. Reis must participate in the same training as Cromwell and Greene to return to the league. However, unlike Cromwell and Greene, Reis can return to coaching while she completes the executive coaching requirement.
The league is also requiring additional training on retaliation, disrimination, harassment, and bullying for the entire Pride organization to ensure that everyone understands the league’s expectations on appropriate conduct and behavior.
“As we continue to build a league as elite as the players on the pitch, it is critically important that we foster a culture where individuals can safely come forward with concerns without fear of reprisal,” said NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman. “These retaliation concerns were identified during the NWSL/NWSLPA Joint Investigation and interim measures were put in place due to the ongoing nature of the misconduct.”
As for the Pride, Chairman Mark Wilf released a statement this afternoon approving of the investigation, its results, and the league’s actions.
We would like to thank our players, staff and the Joint Investigative Team for their commitment to ensure a thorough and transparent investigation. Our organization has received a review of the findings regarding retaliatory conduct toward Pride players and supports the actions taken by the National Women’s Soccer League, including the league’s decision to terminate the contracts of Amanda Cromwell and Sam Greene, effective immediately.
Our Club is dedicated to providing a safe, inclusive and respectful environment, and we apologize to our players who may have experienced otherwise. We are committed to learning from this process as we continue to build and grow the Pride into the premier organization our players and fans deserve. As a step in that process, we will be implementing anti-retaliation training for all Pride staff members, on both the Soccer Operations side and in the front office.
As we move forward, we will work with our coaching staff to determine the best next steps for all parties.
As for Cromwell, she used a Twitter post to deny any wrongdoing and questions the integrity of the investigation.
October 10, 2022
Cromwell coached 13 games with the Pride in all competitions (six NWSL Challenge Cup matches and seven in the NWSL regular season), posting a record of 2-7-4 (0-4-2 in the Challenge Cup and 2-3-2 in the regular season). She used the Challenge Cup as a way to evaluate the players and to see how different combinations of players worked together. Once the season started, the Pride got off to a better-than-anticipated start despite the loss of Marta for the season as the Brazilian sustained a knee injury. Her last match in charge was a 5-0 road loss at Houston on June 3 — which, at the time, tied the franchise’s worst ever loss. It was the club’s first road loss of the regular season.
Hines took over starting with Orlando’s June 12 match at Chicago. Under Hines, the Pride went 3-7-5, earning 14 points in 15 games. Cromwell’s 1.14 points per game were slightly better than Hines’ 0.93 points per game, but Hines took the team on a seven-game unbeaten run before struggling down the stretch with an 0-5-1 skid.
Wilf mentioned in his statement that Orlando has begun the search for its next head coach.
We recognize that hiring the club’s next head coach is a critical step forward, and we will immediately begin a process to identify a leader that will embody the values of our organization, bring a competitive roster to the field and, most importantly, protect and advocate for our players.
The next Pride manager will be the team’s fourth full-time head coach when the club’s eighth year of existence begins in 2023, and the seventh person to manage the team on either a full-time or part-time basis since the team was announced in 2015.