MLS to Investigate Misconduct Allegations Against Ex-Whitecaps Coach Hubert Busby Jr.

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVOctober 30, 2021

HOUSTON, TX - JUNE 10: Hubert Busby Jr. of Jamaica  watches his team during a game between Nigeria and Jamaica at BBVA Stadium on June 10, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images)
Brad Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images

Major League Soccer announced Friday it's going to hire counsel to handle an independent investigation into the Vancouver Whitecaps' response to sexual misconduct allegations brought against former women's coach Hubert Busby Jr. by player Malloree Enoch in 2011.

MLS released a statement about the review, via the Associated Press:

"The investigation will include a review of the club's internal processes and overall culture at the time as well as recommendations on preventative measures to ensure that all players and staff under the Whitecaps organization umbrella work in a safe environment, free of all forms of harassment and fear of retaliation. The league and club will publicly release the findings and recommendations of the investigation."

The Whitecaps women's squad competed in the USL W-League until the team dissolved in 2012.

Enoch detailed her allegations to Matthew Hall of The Guardian on Thursday, saying Busby asked her to stay in his hotel room on three occasions between 2010 and 2011.

The first request came after a meeting that was she was told would include other members of the Whitecaps staff, but no one else showed up. The second came when she was flown to Los Angeles to participate in a trial game to secure a squad place, but no other Whitecaps staff or players were present and no game was scheduled.

She said the third, which took place while Busby was in Orlando to scout a tournament that he requested she attend, is when the sexual misconduct occurred.

"He was on all fours fully on the bed. He was definitely aroused. He tried to kiss and touch me," Enoch told Hall. "The light was not on but I don't think he had his shirt on. I had to negotiate to get him off the bed. I told him I wasn't interested."

Enoch, who originally contacted Busby in 2010 seeking an administrative job, signed with the Whitecaps as a player in 2011.

She contacted Whitecaps executive Dan Lenarduzzi to detail some of her allegations against Busby at the end of the 2011 season. She explained why she waited until the end of the season to report the allegations of sexual misconduct:

"I was embarrassed and didn't want to compromise being able to play. Of course the right thing to say is no. I know to say no but at the same time I know that with his power he can take away any opportunity I could have whether it was for a job or to play. It would be the end game if I pissed him off or didn't do something. What made me feel safe was that he had the backing of such a renowned club and I was protected."

After the season-end review, Vancouver decided not to extend Busby's contract but didn't provide a reason why, and Lendarduzzi wrote in an email to the players that it wasn't "appropriate to comment publicly on this matter" after the coach was let go.

Busby, who currently works as the head coach of the Jamaican women's national team, denied the allegations when contacted by The Guardian. He said his departure from Vancouver came after the sides couldn't reach a contract agreement amid different visions for the future.

"It was more about where they wanted the program to head to at that particular time and where I thought the program was at as well," Busby said.

The Jamaica Football Federation told the AP it has scheduled a meeting with Busby on Tuesday after learning of the allegations.

Members of the Whitecaps organization, which continues to field a men's team in MLS, who were involved in the handling of the Busby allegations and still remain with the team were placed on administrative review pending the outcome of the investigation.