Two-time United States world championships team member Abrahm DeVine posted on Instagram Sunday night alleging he was “kicked off” the Stanford swim team for being gay.
DeVine, who graduated from the school last spring, had been training there as a professional. He joined Team Elite in San Diego at the end of August but did not provide a reason for the change at the time.
“Plain and simple: there are surface level reasons I was kicked off the Stanford swim team, but I can tell you with certainty that it comes down to the fact that I am gay,” DeVine wrote.
Stanford head women’s and men’s team coaches Greg Meehan and Dan Schemmel deny that DeVine was asked to leave over being gay, but confirmed he was “not invited” to remain on the team. They gave SwimSwam the following joint statement:
“It is truly unfortunate Abe feels this way. That said, Abe wasn’t invited back to train with us this fall, as a postgraduate, for reasons entirely unrelated to his sexuality. We take pride in the inclusivity and supportiveness that exists on both our men’s and women’s teams, but we will continue to strive, as always, to improve those aspects of our culture.”
SwimSwam is also expecting a statement from DeVine on the situation.
Schemmel took over the men’s program in May after longtime coach Tedd Knapp retired. He brought in Neil Caskey as an assistant, and DeVine’s primary coach as an undergraduate, former assistant Jeff Kostoff, was named associate head coach at the University of Minnesota in August.
“Everyone says they support me, and yet, for the millionth time, I am the only one speaking up,” DeVine wrote. “To my coaches who sport the pride flag on their desk, to the athletes who liked my pride photo on Instagram, I need you to wake up to what’s happening around you.” DeVine also wrote that Stanford “used” him.
DeVine, 23, was a member of the United States’ 2017 and 2019 FINA World Championships teams, finishing 10th in the 200 IM in 2017 and eighth in 2019. He also finished second to Chase Kalisz in the 200 IM at U.S. Summer Nationals in 2018, qualifying for Pan Pacs later that summer, where he finished fifth in the event.
He came out publicly as gay in September 2018.
A Seattle native, DeVine was also announced as a member of the ISL’s DC Trident in June and signed with swimwear brand arena in July, and became a two-time individual NCAA champion int he 400 IM his junior and senior seasons in Palo Alto.
Devine’s full post:
View this post on Instagram
As many of you know, I’m an openly gay swimmer and I am the only one at my level. I want to use this post to call out some of the homophobia that I’ve experienced being an athlete, and encourage everyone to be thoughtful and intentional about changing some of the homophobic aspects of the athletic culture that exists today. While I have many specific examples of micro aggressions and outright aggressions that I’ve experienced, homophobia is ultimately much more than an accumulation of experiences. In fact, it is a denial of experience. While I feel like I’ve tried to convey this to many people, many of whom deny any possibility that they contribute it, I’ve started to ask myself: Why is it my job to educate coaches and athletes at the most resourceful university in the world? I cannot continue to try to engage people in this conversation when there is so much fragility to obscure my humanity and character, so much rhetoric to keep me silent. Everyone says they support me, and yet, for the millionth time, I am the only one speaking up. To my coaches who sport the pride flag on their desk, to the athletes who liked my pride photo on Instagram, I need you to wake up to what’s happening around you. How can you say you support me and my equality? How can you not see how Stanford Swim has treated me and used me over the last 4 years? Am I invisible? Plain and simple: there are surface level reasons I was kicked off the Stanford swim team, but I can tell you with certainty that it comes down to the fact that I am gay. This is a pattern. Homophobia is systematic, intelligently and masterfully designed to keep me silent and to push me out. I am a talented, successful, educated, proud, gay man: I am a threat to the culture that holds sports teams together. I want something to change, because I can’t take it anymore. My story is not unique. There are queer voices everywhere and all you have to do is listen. I am asking, begging for some sort of action. If you are reading this, this post is for you! Gay or straight, swimmer or not. None of us are exempt from homophobia. It is your civil duty to educate yourself. If you choose not to, it is at my expense.
Update: Devine has followed up with a couple of Instagram stories. Devine clarifies that he doesn’t want anyone to be fired, but does stand by his statement. He gave a couple of details slightly more specific than what we’ve gotten so far. He mentions “coaches trying to intimidate me, friends turning their backs, cis straight white men trying to deny something they don’t want to understand.” It’s still not clear which coaches or which team members Devine is referring to.