Teri McKeever, Olympic swimming coach, fired for bullying, harassment

Teri McKeever, Olympic swimming coach, fired for bullying, harassment

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Teri McKeever, longtime women’s swimming and diving coach at the University of California, was fired on Tuesday after an investigation into allegations of harassment, verbal abuse and intimidation of athletes, the school said in a statement.

McKeever, 61, has coached 26 Olympic athletes at Cal, including multiple gold medalists Missy Franklin and Natalie Coughlin, and at the 2012 London Games she became the first woman to be the head coach of a US Olympic swim team. McKeever’s Golden Bears teams have won four NCAA titles in 29 seasons, the most recent in 2015.

“I firmly believe this is in the best interest of our student-athletes, our swimming program and Cal Athletics as a whole,” athletic director Jim Knowlton wrote in a letter to team and staff at the Cal athletic department.

Their teammates are dead. Through the high school hoops, they cry.

The school had placed McKeever on paid administrative leave in May after athletes alleged to the Orange County Registry that she had “verbally and emotionally abused, insulted and threatened swimmers almost daily.” [and] pressures athletes to compete or train while injured or suffering from chronic illnesses or eating disorders. The Register reported that the allegations had been reported to school and athletic department officials, including Knowlton, on multiple occasions since 2010.

“I want to apologize, on behalf of Cal Athletics, to all of the student-athletes who have been the subject of this conduct in the past, and I want to thank everyone who has had the courage to come forward and to share their story with investigators,” Knowlton wrote Tuesday. “Looking to the future, I recognize that the standards of intercollegiate athletics have evolved in terms of how we develop our student-athletes to perform at their best, on and off the competition fields. .”

McKeever was fired after a nearly 500-page report, commissioned by the school and compiled by California law firm Munger, Tolles & Olson, confirmed accusations by more than 40 swimmers that “coach McKeever shouted personal slurs and epithets, used demeaning and disparaging language, and singled out athletes for abuse on the basis of race and disability. The law firm determined that the actions violated the campus’ 2016 anti-bullying policy and that she had used abusive language against 15 swimmers prior to that. McKeever is also being investigated by the US Center for SafeSport.

Danielle Carter, one of the swimmers who spoke out against McKeever’s conduct, told SFGATE in December that McKeever made her feel like she was “no longer a human being” and “a property Teri could use. at his disposal”. McKeever’s favorite insult to herself and others, she said, was “piece of s—.” Six other swimmers told the Registry the same.

One swimmer, whose anonymity was granted by Sports Illustrated, wrote in an essay last June: “These women were my classmates and friends, and over time I began to see the effect that Teri’s behavior had on them. They cowered in the face of his anger and inevitably deduced that there was something wrong with them. No matter what Teri laughed at or scolded, my friends focused on fixing it, even if they couldn’t because the problems were physical – Crohn’s disease issues, eating disorders and shoulder injuries. and at the ankle. Many of his targets developed mental health issues and began to doubt themselves. Were they too sensitive to their wounds? Did they let their teammates down? I was relieved that I wasn’t a target, but my stomach was churning at the thought of living in their place.

Dave Durden, the school’s longtime men’s coach and head coach of the U.S. men’s Olympic team at the 2021 Tokyo Games, was named interim director of Cal’s men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs in August . Dave Marsh, another decorated Olympic coach, was hired as the associate head coach of both programs.

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