One of swimming’s most celebrated coaches, Mark Schubert, is being sued for wrongful termination by a former employee, Coach Dia Rianda, in Orange County, California. The lawsuit alleges Rianda was fired because she continually alerted Schubert to “inappropriate behavior” by William (Bill) Jewell, a “volunteer assistant” at Golden West Swim Club (GWSC) – where Schubert is currently the head coach after serving a stint as the USA Swimming National Team Director.
The complaint is layered with additional allegations. Many of the coaches named have ties to some of the biggest names in coaching and their allegeded inappropriate behavior, Sean Hutchison of FAST, and Rick Curl of Curl Burke (now CUBU). Hutchison, who headed the Elite Training Program at FAST, has been cleared of any wrong doing by USA Swimming. Curl, who is alleged to have sexually abused Kelley Davies (now Currin) in the 1980s, is under investigation by USA Swimming. Curl’s hearing is set for September 19th.
The complaint is set to be filed by attorney Robert Allard, the same attorney who is representing Currin in her case, and the Golden West Swim Club and Mark Schubert are named as defendants.
Tim Joyce of WBAL broke this story, and according to his report, “Rianda claims that Schubert, on three separate occasions, tearfully told her that he could have done more for Currin but didn’t.” Schubert coached Kelley Currin at the University of Texas, and, according to Rianda, Currin told Schubert what Curl had done to her. Later, when Schubert was the USA Swimming National Team Director, he “made it known to Rianda that he did tell Chuck Wielgus and others at USA Swimming headquarters about Curl’s abusive behavior.”
While USA Swimming is still reviewing the documents, they did release the following through a spokesperson: “USA Swimming cannot comment on ongoing investigations. However, as a matter of process, when USA Swimming initiates a coach investigation, it immediately notifies the employing club. As per the Amateur Sports Act, membership status cannot be affected without the opportunity for a hearing. Employment decisions during investigations are at the discretion of the employing club.”
For a simple wrongful termination case, this suit is rife with accusations, and it’s the broader sex abuse scandal plaguing USA Swimming and the central players involved that continues to generate headlines. The case seems to serve to tie together many of the major stories related to sexual abuse and swimming in the last two years, even though the common thread is through an employment lawsuit.
Rianda was simply concerned about assistant coach Jewell’s behavior toward female swimmers. She claims that she brought to Schubert’s attention over and over, and that Schubert’s reaction was to fire her. But Jewell is more than an assistant coach. During Hutchison’s tenure at Fullerton Aquatics, Jewell was the CEO of FAST. This program was the west coast training program for USA Swimming’s elite post graduates. In sum, Jewell is a carreer coach, aquatics director, and a pillar of the community.
Rianda is also a well-respected coach and a generous philanthropist who has donated more than $100,000 to the USA Swimming Foundation. Whatever the outcome of this suit, the names and allegations involved will rock the foundation of the sport: either to the affirmative for the athlete safety initiatives, or to the negative.