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UC Berkeley women’s swimming coach Teri McKeever was placed on administrative leave by the school following strong misconduct and verbal abuse accounts aimed at McKeever.
Cal athletic director Jim Knowlton announced on Wednesday,
“Today, Coach McKeever was placed on paid administrative leave. This afternoon, in a meeting I held with team members, I shared this news and expressed our commitment to support them in any way we can going forward. As reported, these allegations run counter to our core values and the expectations we have for every member of our department
“As the person entrusted with the well-being of more than 1,000 student-athletes, coaches and staff, I have no greater responsibility than ensuring we do the right things in the right way. We will follow all university policies and protocols for investigating and addressing these allegations. We are replying to everyone, including parents and former student-athletes, who has reached out to us as quickly as we can, while we are also providing resources for members of the program who are in need.”
In a new report released Monday, Scott M. Reid of the OC Register shared his conversations with 19 current and former Cal swimmers that competed under McKeever. The common thread among the accounts touched on McKeever’s proclivity to verbally berate her swimmers.
Six of the accusers alleged that McKeever’s abuse pushed them to “suicidal thoughts.” When the swimmers shared their emotional distress with McKeever, the coach reportedly double-downed on the abuse.
“I don’t think there was a practice I wasn’t yelled at by Teri,” said an unnamed Cal swimmer. “She called me a piece of (expletive) every day.”
McKeever became the first female head coach of a U.S. Olympic team, in 2012. She has coached at Cal for 29 seasons and led the team to four NCAA titles.
On Wednesday, the majority of the Cal swim team walked out of a meeting where McKeever addressed the damning Register report. McKeever followed them to the parking lot as some women walked out in tears.
Several of the women went on record without anonymity.
“At that point, I had become the scapegoat,” said Jenna Rais, who competed at Cal for four years (2001-05).
“She said, ‘You’re doing (expletive) in the water,’” Rais added. “You’re swimming like (expletive).”
In additional fallout from the swimmers coming forward to report McKeever’s behavior, at least two former Cal swimmers received unsolicited emails from the U.S. Center for SafesSport saying the center had received a report about McKeever “concerning possible misconduct you may have witnessed, or personally experienced.”