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.