The organizer of a women’s basketball tournament so shoddy it drew comparisons to the Fyre Festival is a former Division I coach with a history of sexual abuse allegations, according to public records.
Bryce McKey’s organization, Destination Basketball, was responsible for the Las Vegas Invitational debacle this past weekend, which had major Division I women’s basketball programs playing in a ballroom with no stands, players having no towels available — they were asked to bring their own — and no EMT on site, which led to one game being delayed.
But before settling into his current job as an embarrassingly bad college basketball tournament organizer, McKey resigned from his coaching role at Maryland in 2015 after allegations of sexual misconduct emerged. The allegations were made by two women’s basketball players at Xavier, where McKey had previously been an assistant. He was accused of inviting the two to his suburban Cincinnati home at different times on the same day.
There he allegedly gave the pair alcohol — at least one of the women was under 21 years old at the time — and made sexual advances toward them, including several instances of alleged groping. McKey pled not guilty to the misdemeanor charge involving one of the women and was acquitted. No charges were filed regarding the second allegation.
In 2016, McKey was found not guilty of sexual abuse and unlawful transaction with a minor following a bench trial in Covington, Ky. The judge in the case, who decided McKey’s verdict, reportedly asked: “If she truly was uncomfortable about what was going on … why didn’t she leave?” The judge also reportedly believed the alleged victim had too many opportunities to object to what was happening but failed to do so, and suggested McKey had no way of knowing that one of his own players was under 21 years old.
In a separate complaint for which McKey was not charged, the former coach was alleged to have stuck his hand inside of a player’s pants during a goodbye hug — then, when she tried to leave, threw her onto a bed and climbed on top of her. When Xavier’s season began, the team’s head coach at the time, Brian Neal, had noticed strange behavior and called the alleged victim’s parents. The player’s father then relayed to Neal what his daughter told him about her encounter with McKey, which led to Neal helping her file a police report, according to a Cincinnati Enquirer open records request. No charges were filed from this incident, and McKey’s lawyer, Harry Hellings, has said it is “easy to fabricate claims” and that there were “two sides to these issues.”
Since the verdict, McKey has been an influential figure in Ohio girls high school basketball. McKey is currently an AAU coach for the Legends U program. His personal Twitter account has been set to private. Destination Basketball’s website is no longer online and its Twitter account has been deactivated since reports of the Las Vegas Invitational’s poor conditions went viral.
Deadspin attempted to reach McKey for comment via various email addresses and phone numbers but has not received a response.
According to public records, McKey is listed as the incorporator for Journey to the Tourney, Great Lakes Basketball Classic, West Palm Invitational, and Classic in the Country.
During an October appearance on WCPO’s High School Insider podcast, McKey was previewing the Ohio girls basketball season and also promoting the organization She Hoops Ohio. Its next event is Classic in the Country.