Mother alleges mistreatment of Kalin Bennett, former Kent State basketball player with autism


Kalin Bennett shakes hands with assistant coach Matt Sligh after Kent State defeated Hiram College 97-58. November 6, 2019.

Sonja Bennett, mother of former Kent State men’s basketball player and current sophomore Kalin Bennett, said in a Twitter post last night her son was mistreated by the university and its basketball program.

Bennett, who was responding to a tweet from her son about the men’s basketball team’s Autism Awareness game, said Kent State Athletics “violated your disability rights and your rights as a black man.” Kalin Bennett became the first person with autism to sign a national letter of intent to play for a Division I sports team when he committed to Kent State in October 2018.

The tweet continued that a professor mistreated her son in front of witnesses and the university did nothing, that “the coach” violated Kalin’s right to privacy via the federal law that restricts the release of medical information and that the university removed an autism advocate. It’s unclear if the coach referred to is Rob Senderoff, the head coach of the men’s basketball team.

“Kalin Bennett is a valued member of our community and we will honor the scholarship he currently holds,” said Eric Mansfield, assistant vice president of university communications and marketing, in an email. “If Kalin chooses to pursue his education elsewhere, we will fully support him through the transfer process. We take any and all accusations of inappropriate conduct seriously and are looking into the matter.”

Sonja and Kalin Bennett were contacted for comment, but have not responded.

The initial tweet from Kalin Bennett expressed regret he could not attend the men’s basketball team’s second annual Autism Awareness game, which was held Saturday, Feb. 20. He also said he was glad the game was still held in order to increase awareness for autism. The Autism Awareness game was established last year during Kalin Bennett’s freshman season.

Bennett appeared for four minutes in Kent State’s season opener, but has not played in a game since and entered the NCAA transfer portal in late December. He reported February 19 on Twitter that he received an offer from Morehouse College.

Owen is sports editor. Contact him at [email protected]