Allard: US Sports Academy Should Rescind Awards For Wielgus, Paterno

California attorney Bob Allard has publicly urged the U.S. Sports Academy to rescind an honorary doctorate given to USA Swimming President Chuck Wielgus last month, while also repeating his call for a similar honor to be stripped from former NCAA football coach Joe Paterno.

Allard, a child advocacy lawyer who has represented a number of clients suing USA Swimming, says Wielgus has “a demonstrated history of protecting predator coaches” and compares Wielgus to Paterno, the former Penn State coach who was accused of ignoring or covering up sexual abuse of children by another coach on his staff.

Wielgus was recently awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the U.S. Sports Academy. Allard has called for the award to be rescinded. He made similar calls against Paterno, but the USSA has not rescinded Paterno’s award.

We reached out to the U.S. Sports Academy for comment. Their response is below, followed by Allard’s full press release:

USSA Statement:

The United States Sports Academy’s Awards of Sport program over the past 32 years has honored hundreds of individuals for athletic accomplishments and contributions to sport around the world.  The awards are given based on contemporary information about the accomplishments of the honorees, and the Academy has no procedure for rescinding honors once they have been conferred.

Regarding Mr. Chuck Wielgus, executive director of USA Swimming, the Academy presented its 2016 Honorary Doctorate on the basis of his 20 years of service as executive director of USA Swimming; his positive efforts to enhance the sport across the United States; his success in leading USA Swimming to international leadership as evidenced by its dominance in the 2016 Rio Olympics; and the fact that he has the full faith and confidence of the Board of Directors of USA Swimming, including recent renewal of his contract as executive director.

 

Allard Press Release:

US Sports Academy Urged to Rescind Awards for Child Sex Abuse Enablers Chuck Wielgus and Joe Paterno

Mr. Allard is asking the US Sport Academy and other major colleges and universities to take the lead in getting rid of sexual abuse in the coaching ranks.

JANUARY 5, 2017 — SAN JOSE, CA — Childhood sex abuse attorney Robert Allard is urging the United States Sports Academy to rescind its awards to sex abuse enablers and to become a leader in the fight against coaches who sexually abuse their athletes. Late last year, the Academy honored the head of USA Swimming, Chuck Wielgus, and to date has yet to rescind the awards to former Penn St. coach Joe Paterno.

“Both Wielgus and Paterno have a demonstrated history of protecting predator coaches,” said Allard, “and at the same time ignoring the cries for help from those being abused.”

The Academy claims to have started in 1972 as a result of the need for a national school of sport. It provides students with a Sports Diploma in Sports Management or Sports Coaching.

“Given the prevalence of sex abuse in the coaching ranks, the responsible path for the Academy would be to include and educate prospective graduates with a curriculum aimed at preventing, identifying, and having a zero tolerance policy towards sex abuse,” stated Allard. “This type of curriculum should be mandatory in all colleges and universities offering degrees in sports-related fields.”

Wielgus was nominated for The International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2014 but a group of nearly two dozen sexually abused swimmers petitioned to successfully block his induction. The 2014 petition signed by dozens of abuse victims and their supporters stated in part, “ When it comes to sexual abuse, Chuck Wielgus has not been a leader in protecting victims; he has instead responded to outside pressure, and only after other avenues of obfuscation have been exhausted.”

This petition was submitted to the Academy in an attempt to rescind the honor bestowed upon Weilgus, but the spokesperson for the Academy refused, citing USA Swimming’s consistent gold medal performance under Wielgus’ watch.

“The Academy’s glorification of both Wielgus and Paterno embody a mentality that places winning ahead of the moral obligation to protect kids and athletes from predator coaches,” added Allard.

The Academy claims that nearly 1,300 students study sports annually in their degree programs, making their sport education programs among the largest in the world.

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Distance Swimmer

I really don’t understand what revoking the award from Paterno would do. Yes how he handled the situation was wrong but he’s since passed away, you cannot right the wrongs of someone who no longer lives.

sven

My thought is that it’s less about Paterno himself, since he’s a bit beyond their jurisdiction, and more about the message it sends. As quoted, it seems to show “a mentality that places winning ahead of the moral obligation to protect kids and athletes from predator coaches.”

Swimmom

Allard must be feeling irrelevant. Why bring this up now? Zzzzzz.

Never swim alone

To the incredible number of victims of over 100 coaches banned from the sport and victims of the alleged secret flagged coach list, this is very relevant. This man has no business continuing in a NGB leadership position for an organization financed by mainly unsuspecting parents of children under age 18, much less receiving accolades and awards. Sick and tired of seeing a “Good Ole Boys” club patting each other on the back for a win at all cost sports model. This includes condoning and ignoring exploitation of young athletes pursuing the Olympic dream. Is there human decency and morality in pursuit for Olympic Gold in swimming? Or is Brand and lining leadership pockets most important at the expense of… Read more »

Ohioswimmer

Allard goes home every night knowing he has done some good in the world representing and advocating for sexual abuse victims and other victims. I doubt he feels irrelevant. That Wielgus remains with USA Swimming is an outrage. Allard has the voice and platform needed to keep that in the forefront.

Martyn Iv

It bears repeating that those closest to the Sandusky case, (Mike McQueary, Graham Spanier, Garry Schultz, Tim Curley and Jerry Sandusky) have all made statements in defense of Paterno.

It also bears repeating that Paterno’s actions in 2001, reporting the incident up his chain of command and not interfering with or influencing the investigation are now NCAA policy.

Paterno was never been charged with a crime. If Bob Allard is concerned about protecting children, I recommend he start with the government agency that approved Sandusky for adoption six times.

Bigly

I’d say the persons “closest to the Sandusky case” would be the victims, and in reference to your point, particularly the 14 year old boy who testified in the insurance case against PSU that he told Paterno about abuse from Sandusky in 1976. If true, that’s a 25 year gap in “reporting the incident up his chain of command….”. If you run a program where your subordinates are aware of crimes and afraid to tell you about them for fear of adverse actions, you’re a cause of the problem, not an innocent bystander. The additional shame of the Paterno legacy is that it has led to the Art Briles defense in his suit against Baylor.

Wilson

MARTYN IV…not sure Jerry Sandusky is a credible source, his defense of Paterno carries about as much weight as the Rick Curls and Tim Orbiens of the world defending Wielgus.

Yeah

Paterno hasn’t been charged with a crime because he finally did the right thing and died. He and his repellent children knew about Sandusky for decades.

DrSwimPhil

That football program should’ve received an SMU-like death penalty. How anyone can defend Paterno, et al, is beyond comprehensible.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson just can’t stay away from the pool. A competitive career of almost two decades wasn’t enough for this Minnesotan, who continues to get his daily chlorine fix. A lifelong lover of writing, Jared now combines the two passions as Senior Reporter for SwimSwam.com, covering swimming at every level. He’s an …

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