Cal swim coach fired, accused of student abuse, fired. She complains

For 20 years, Teri McKeever led UC Berkeley’s women’s swimming and diving program to great success, winning multiple NCAA championships.

And her accomplishments weren’t limited to the college level – in 2012, she became the first female coach of the United States women’s swimming team at the London Olympics.

McKeever, however, also degraded student-athletes in its Cal program, discriminated against swimmers because of their race or disabilities and used abusive language, according to an independent investigation commissioned by the school last year.

The investigation was sparked by numerous allegations against the coach, some of which were published in a series of Orange County Register articles last year, and culminated in a nearly 500-page report.

McKeever was fired from her job at Cal this week after being furloughed in May.

“The report details numerous violations of university policies that prohibit discrimination based on race, national origin, and disability,” Cal Athletic Director Jim Knowlton wrote in a letter to the swimming and diving program.

“I was disturbed by what I learned while reading the 482 pages of the report which substantiated far too many allegations of unacceptable behavior,” Knowlton wrote. “I want to apologize, on behalf of Cal Athletics, to every student-athlete who has been the subject of this conduct in the past.”

McKeever has denied any wrongdoing and plans to take legal action against the school.

“I unequivocally deny and refute all findings that I have abused or bullied any athlete and deny any suggestion that I have discriminated against any athlete on the basis of race, disability or sexual orientation,” he said. McKeever said in a statement.

McKeever said she’s been open about her coaching methods and “the administration knows and has fully approved of the way I coach.”

“Over a 30-year career, there are always those who challenge my coaching style and me personally,” she said. “I’m a woman doing what is traditionally a man’s job, and double standards come with the territory.”

McKeever’s lawyer, Tom Newkirk, said the dismissal was the result of gender bias and coaches “male or female, should be scared, very scared”.

“If you’re a good coach who holds your athletes accountable, you’re next,” Newkirk said in a statement sent to The Times.

“When Cal’s football coach received complaints, he was allowed to keep his job and ‘learn’ from his mistakes,” he said.

But the investigation, conducted by Los Angeles-based law firm Munger, Tolles & Olson, found that McKeever’s behavior violated numerous school policies and created a hostile environment for athletes of different races and with disabilities.

In one case, an athlete, identified only as Swimmer A, alleged that she was singled out because of her race, which was removed from the report.

The swimmer was repeatedly verbally abused and frequently kicked out of practice and barred from some competitions, according to the report.

“We conclude that Coach McKeever submitted [another swimmer] and Swimmer A in a racially hostile environment,” the report states.

Another athlete, identified as Swimmer C, who participated in the program two decades ago, alleged that McKeever had become exasperated by her difficulty speaking English, which was not her first language.

The athlete said she was mocked by McKeever for her last name, called fat by the coach and forced to swim despite an injury.

The athlete said she was “unable to sleep” and felt “extremely unhappy and exhausted” by McKeever’s treatment.

“We believe it is more likely than not that Coach McKeever’s constant comments about Swimmer C’s name, speech and national origin…have created a hostile environment based on race,” the report reads. .

Los Angeles Times

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