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Sells Resigns at Virginia Commonwealth After One Season

April 4, 1996

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ Peggy Sells, under fire for being too harsh on her players, resigned Wednesday as Virginia Commonwealth University’s women’s basketball coach after one season on the job.

Sells, 26, became the youngest head coach in Division I women’s basketball when she was hired in August after winning 80 games in three years at South Carolina-Spartanburg.

VCU athletic director Richard Sander said Sells’ resignation was effective Wednesday, and the university’s search for her successor began immediately.

The Rams were 14-14 under Sells, but her departure appeared to result from her demanding style of coaching and discord among players.

Players and their families had complained to VCU athletic and academic officials about Sells’ motivational and disciplinary methods, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

One player, Vandela Thelander, said Sells had taped shut the mouth of a first-year player during practice on at least two occasions.

``Abuse of players is something we have never and certainly will never condone,″ Sander said. ``If you talk to Peggy about it now, I think she’ll admit that yes, that was a bad decision.″

``Was that a mistake?″ Sells reflected. ``Probably so. In retrospect, I probably would not do that again.″

The newspaper cited an unidentified source close to the team as saying that had Sells not left, many of the Rams’ 10 returning players would not have returned. Sander confirmed that four of the 10 players had inquired about transferring to other schools.

Two players, including a starter, left the team in late 1995.

Sells, a native of Knoxville, Tenn., lettered all four seasons as a player at Clemson from 1987 to 1991 and scored 364 career points, 141 of them in her junior year.

She was a graduate assistant coach at Clemson before she went to South Carolina-Spartanburg in 1992.

``This is not necessarily a sad day in my life,″ Sells said in an interview with the newspaper. ``I’d rather think of it as a new day in my life.

``Anyone who knows me or has ever been affiliated with me knows how frustrated I’ve been this year. My expectations were so high for myself and the program, and I don’t know that I was patient enough. I guess I let my frustration show.″

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