The Arizona Republic and USA Today, which owns the Republic, have obtained and published the full text message chain between coach Bob Bowman and Olympian Caroline Burckle, messages that have drawn harsh criticism of Bowman and prompted an apology from the 2016 Olympic coach.
Burckle, a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, came forward last month accusing Bowman and Sean Hutchison of sending her inappropriate text messages in 2011, shortly after her retirement from swimming. Bowman, the coach of Michael Phelps and now the head coach at Arizona State,admitted he sent inappropriate text messages in 2011 and said he ‘promptly’ apologized for them.
USA Today and the Republic obtained the text messages as part of an open records request to Arizona State University. Per its reporting, here is the full text message thread, with Bowman and Hutchison appearing to both text from Bowman’s phone:
Bowman’s phone: “Sean wants you. I want your brother!!”
Burckle: “This is gross, who is this?”
Bowman’s phone: “Bob bowman. Who is this hon?”
Bowman’s phone: “This is Sean now how you?”
Bowman’s phone: “Yea, baby”
Bowman’s phone: “What’s bout? Sexual tension?”
Burckle: “Is this still Sean?”
Bowman’s phone: “Yea baby”
Burckle: “I’m a little confused as to what is going on, but if this truly is Bob and Sean, this is really inappropriate.”
Bowman’s phone: “How so?”
Burckle: “Just really crossing the line,”
Bowman’s phone: “Not really crossing any line dear..”
Burckle: “Allright, it’s getting late, if this is bob and Sean, then please don’t text me anymore. But if it’s someone else playing a joke, Please tell Me who it is because I don’t think this is funny.”
Hutchison is now accused of grooming and sexually abusing another Olympian, Ariana Kukors Smith, who alluded to more allegations coming against an Olympic coach in her lawsuit against Hutchison.
Bowman told USA Today that the messages were inappropriate and that he called Burckle to apologize for them. He also says the line about her brother – 2012 Olympian Clark Burckle – was swimming-related.
“The exchange was inappropriate, which is why I apologized for all of it,” Bowman says in USA Today. “The reference to her brother, however, was swimming related. Her brother was swimming really well at the time and I had interest in coaching him.
“Clearly, this was not the manner or forum through which I should have communicated, nor should I have allowed any other individuals to communicate through my device, which is what I expressed to her when I apologized to her in a follow up phone conversation. I am deeply sorry for what occurred, have learned from all of this, and am grateful for the good relationship we have today.”
The messages were sent in 2011. Bowman would be on staff for the 2012 Olympics, where Clark Burckle competed, and was named head men’s coach for the 2016 Olympics. USA Swimming CEO Tim Hinchey said last week that if the incident happened today under his watch, he “can’t see appointing [the coach] to an Olympic team.”
Arizona State says it didn’t know about the text messages when it hired Bowman in 2015. The university issued a reprimand to Bowman on July 22, but hasn’t taken any further action.
New Uncle Sam style recruiting poster for ASU: https://twitter.com/own_bob/status/1024880268279078912
This may be a minor point but It doesn’t seem like either phone had the other in its contacts or that the number was given to Bowman with Caroline’s knowledge. Either Sean held on to her number since her days at fast, possibly waiting for her to retire, or it may have been obtained from a confidential USA Swimming roster/database. Misuse/ sharing of contact info obtained as a coach, regardless of the athlete’s current status or age, makes this a Coach conduct issue.
Perhaps the most ignorant comment on swim swam this year. Congrats, you’ve lowered the bar.
As someone who has trained under bob I know the person he is. Has always treated me with respect. Everything was settled when he apologized and she accepted that apology. This is a ridiculous attempt to get attention several years later. Will support bob over this attempt at attention all day! If it really affected her that much she would’ve posted the text earlier to get support. This is USA Today’s attempt to destroy someone in a sport they don’t care about. They can just go back to get destroyed by trump
Caroline was the only adult in that creepy situation. Feel bad for her.
This is gross
Making the US Olympic Team and being an Olympic bronze medalist is pretty successful to me.
The comments texts themselves aren’t shocking if the context was 3 adults enjoying the banter.
They are extraordinary inapprproprate when persisting when one of the adults clearly isn’t amused and infact offended.
Thank you Tim, no one is understanding Burckle’s side here—she is clearly not OK with this and asking for it to end. This is sexual harassment. Commenters on here saying this isn’t bad as they thought, etc—I’m appalled. She is only 24, just off the swimming circuit and clearly had respect for her former Olympic coaches. This is awful, no matter how anyone tries to spin this.