University reacts to former softball coach’s arrest

A former Sonoma State University volunteer softball assistant coach was arrested in New York and charged with more than 94 counts of improper sexual contact  involving 13 players.

Kurt  Ludwigsen, 43, coached for the Nyack College Softball Team in New York, where he had allegedly been inappropriately touching and kissing women on the team, authorities say. 

According to CBS San Francisco Bay Area, Petaluma police investigated him for his behavior in 2013, but didn’t find enough evidence to charge him.”

Ludwigsen was hired by Nyack College in September and fired from his coaching immediately when the investigation in New York began. The husband and father of two was arrested on April 9. 

Having coached at Sonoma State 12 years ago, there are not many people in the area who were students or coaching at that time. Bill Fusco, senior director of Intercollegiate Athletics at Sonoma State, was at the campus when Ludwigsen was coaching. 

“Kurt Ludwigsen was a volunteer assistant coach in 2002 and 2003, not an employee of Sonoma State,” said Fusco. “There were no complaints at that time or sense of any inappropriate behavior that we knew of.”

Now that these allegations are out, 12 years later, students and players are just now starting to speak up. Seawolves’ shortstop Ancia Purdy did not know Ludwigsen, but has heard about the allegations. 

“I would like to think that I would report something like that,” said Purdy describing how she would handle the situation if it were to have happened to her. “But to hear that there have been almost 100 allegations since 2002 and nothing has really been talked about until now is a little unnerving.”

A softball player from Sonoma County was able to share her experience with The Press Democrat but wished to stay anonymous. While she was playing for Ludwigsen’s Nor Cal Assault Team she said there was an  incident where he had groped her chest, according to her interview with The Press Democrat. Although this was just one situation, it’s not the first time an incident like this has happened on college sports teams. 

Hiring male coaches for female sports teams has become a trend on college campuses. According to an article in the Star Tribune, within the six conferences, men coach roughly 40 percent of women’s basketball teams. 

Purdy, who grew up with mostly male coaches, has never seen this as an issue. She said how she has trust in the people who are coaching and expects they are coaching with the right intentions.

 “It’s hard to tell if there’s an issue of sexual harassment on campus and within the athletic department,” said Purdy, “because more times than not victims don’t speak up. But I do think it’s more of an issue than people know about for that very reason.”

Because Ludwigsen coached at Sonoma State 12 years ago, Fusco expects few to remember him.

With an entirely new coaching staff and all of the players having long graduated by now, there isn’t much more Sonoma State can do or say regarding the issue. 

As for Ludwigsen, his next court date is  May 11. Nyack detectives, along with Petaluma detectives are working on getting more information for the case. 

According to the Journal News of Westchester, New York, Ludwigsen reportedly began his coaching career as a member of the University of Arizona softball coaching staff before moving to California.

Disclosure: Ancia Purdy is a staff writer for the Sonoma State STAR.