Hidden “hot box” puts three UW-Platteville wrestling coaches in hot water
Trevor Kittleson, Matthew Randone and Edward Smith were all let go mainly because they knew about the “hot box.”
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - We now know three former UW-Platteville wrestling coaches were fired, in part, because of what’s known as a hidden “hot box” that was built under the bleacher stairs in Williams Fieldhouse.
A letter written to former head coach Trevor Kittleson from the university’s Vice Chancellor and Provost, Wayne Weber, outlines why Kittleson was fired back on February 13.
“The behavior you are shown to have engaged in towards student athletes and others in the videos is simply unacceptable for a head coach. But even more concerning is the “hot box” which was clearly created with your knowledge and acquiescence,” writes Weber.
A performance discussion document from the university outlines instances of multiple reports against Kittleson, saying he was inappropriate toward student athletes. One instance documented shows Kittleson “headbutting a student athlete in anger” as he came off the wrestling mat after losing a match. Another describes how Kittleson pushed and yelled at another student as he came off the mat while also yelling at an officiant with “fists clenched” while his student athlete was struggling behind them on the mat. The document goes on to say Kittleson admitted to Athletic Director, Kristina Navarro, that his behavior was “inappropriate and out of line.”
Another instance is documented from April 1, 2022, where the athletic director and human resources manager met with Kittleson to give him a written warning for unsafe driving with student athletes in the vehicle. During that meeting, documents say they also talked to him about reported violent behavior which allegedly happened off-site during an NCAA weekend where he “placed a student wrestler in a chokehold at a bar.” He was told his behavior was not acceptable.
Kittleson also supposedly admitted that he was involved in the “assembly” of the “hot room” and indicated he didn’t think it would violate NCAA regulations.
The “Hot Box”
A document from human resources explains the “hot box” was used to help students lose weight, which is in violation of NCAA rules. Section 5, Article 1 in RULE 9 explains prohibited weight-loss practices. Banned methods include the use of laxatives, emetics, self-induced vomiting, hot rooms, hot boxes and steam rooms.
The document goes on to describe the “hot box” that was found hidden “behind the wrestling room beneath the stars of the bleachers over the pool.” It says an employee was watching wrestling practice when they heard noise coming from behind the wall of the wrestling room.
That’s when the employee found the “hot box”, hidden by a plywood “wall” and a plywood “door” on hinges, and that it was illegally made by “dismantling an electrical box and retrofitting the electrical box to accommodate electrical plugs for two large space heaters.”
In addition to the space heaters, the room had a weight bench, jump ropes, free weights, and a stationary bike.
The employee says when they walked in, a wrestler was using the bike, the space heaters were raised to the highest setting and “glowed bright red”. They estimated it was over 100 degrees in the “hot box.”
Upon investigation, the UW-Platteville Facilities Assistant Director documented the space had a combustible wall structure (plywood) built in a non-combustible framed building, which is a fire code violation and “could cause loss of life if a student were inside during a fire or emergency.” In addition to that, it had unauthorized electrical wiring work, which is against code.
The university concluded the “hot box” was made specifically to raise the temperature above a safe level in an unventilated space to “induce unsafe weight loss practices” outside the official wrestling space. They say since it was “hidden” it’s apparent that leadership staff were not meant to see it. Not only was it a safety and fire hazard and against school rules, but it also violated NCAA rules as well.
Former wrestling coach Matthew Randone was also fired during the same time as Kittleson. His performance discussion document lays out the same “hot box” description and accusations, concluding Randone was aware of the unsafe conditions and practices and failed to report them.
Another offense according to the documents, they say Randone did not manage team travel expenses properly. The documents say Randone had delinquent and missing documentation for expenses. In addition, the documents say the most concerning financial issue was when Randone let an individual not employed or connected to the university book lodging and negotiate hotel rates for rooms on behalf of the UW Platteville Wrestling Team. This goes directly against the University’s administrative code.
Former wrestling coach Edward Smith was also fired during the same time as Kittleson and Randone. His performance discussion document lays out the same “hot box” description and accusations, concluding Smith was aware of the unsafe conditions and practices and failed to report them.
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