Sarah Behn steps down as Brown women’s coach

Sarah Behn’s tenure as Brown coach is over. (Brown Athletics)

Brown announced Monday that Sarah Behn has stepped down from her role as Brown women’s basketball coach after six seasons at the helm.

Behn went 74-96 (20-64 Ivy) since taking over in 2014 for 26-year coach Jean Marie Burr, leading Brown to an appearance in the inaugural Ivy League Tournament in 2017 and a berth in the 2017 Women’s Basketball Invitational, gaining the program’s first-ever win in a national postseason tournament with a first-round victory over UMBC.

But the Bears collapsed after a 12-1 start the following season and would win just six Ivy games in Behn’s final three seasons at Brown.

“I would like to thank Brown University for allowing me to serve as head women’s basketball coach for the last six years,” Behn said in a statement. “I have truly appreciated the opportunity to work with so many impressive young women.”

“We appreciate all that Sarah has done for the women’s basketball program at Brown and wish her well in her future endeavors,” Brown Athletic Director Jack Hayes said in a statement.

Behn coached second-team All-Ivy selections Justine Gaziano ’20, Shayna Mehta ’19 and Jordin Alexander ’16. Alexander and Sophie Bikofsky ’15 were both Academic All-Ivies.

Behn faced criticism late in her tenure for alleged mistreatment of players. The Brown University Band refused to play at any more women’s basketball home games for the remainder of the 2019-20 season in February, citing allegations made about Behn’s conduct.

A February 13 post on Dear Bluneo, a Brown student-run Facebook page that solicits and posts anonymous submissions, made a series of unsubstantiated allegations against the coach, including emotional abuse, racism and weight-shaming.  This post received supportive comments and “likes” from former Brown players including Lames ElGammel, Abby O’Keefe and Kathleen Ryan.

The Brown Daily Herald noted that it had spoken with seven former players last year, who “alleged that Behn repeatedly made remarks about players’ weights, used language that they described as vulgar and singled out players for criticism.”  At the time, the paper’s leadership decided additional reporting was necessary before publication.

Four current and former players, including Bikofsky, Erika Steeves ’19 and sophomore Maddie Mullins wrote to the paper in support of Behn, who denied all accusations in a response to the Herald and stated that the band’s boycott “only hurts our dedicated student-athletes who continue to represent Brown to the best of their abilities.”

Behn had previously been head coach of UMass Lowell and guided the program’s transition from Division II to Division I play in 2013-14. Her father Barry was a two-time letter-winner on the Brown men’s basketball team from 1960 to 1962.

Brown announced that a national search for a new head coach will begin immediately.

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