Jared Anderson contributed to this report.
Niagara University head swimming coach Ben Nigro is out of a job 2 weeks after being accused of mishandling sexual harassment allegations made by 3 female members of the school’s swim team.
The school declined to say whether Nigro was fired or resigned, citing the lawsuit.
The 47-year old Nigro had been the head coach of the men’s and women’s swimming teams at Niagara for 13 seasons. 2nd-year head diving coach Josh Larcom is the only coach currently listed on the team’s roster. While one diver is among the 3 women who filed the lawsuit, Larcom was not named in the case.
3 current or former members of the women’s swimming & diving team are suing the school, saying that they were sexually harassed by members of the school’s men’s team, and that Nigro didn’t properly address the issue.
The three women filed a federal suit through the U.S. District Court in Buffalo. The suit also claims the women’s team was treated unequally in coaching and equipment, a violation of federal law. Specifically, the suit points to a lack of a female coach or athletic trainer on staff.
The women say members of the men’s team ranked the women by physical appearance, made fun of their bodies and gave them hurtful or vulgar nicknames. Per The Buffalo News, one woman was allegedly called a “water buffalo” and another “Princess Thigh Gap.”
The women say their coach, Ben Nigro, didn’t intervene, but rather told the women to ignore the behavior. The lawsuit says Nigro told the women that “boys will be boys,” and that “90% is how you react and 10% is what they do.” The unnamed diver in the lawsuit also says she made a complaint to an assistant athletic director in 2016, when a member of the men’s team allegedly had sex with a female recruit. The lawsuit says Nigro joked about the situation, saying “he must not have been very good, since she is not coming to NU.”
The lawsuit also says the school delayed the process of a formal complaint that was filed last December, allowing some of the male swimmers to graduate before the school decided whether to punish them or not.
Niagara was scheduled to swim its first meet, the annual purple vs. white instrasquad, on September 28th, but there’s no indication as to whether that meet happened. Their first intercollegiate event is scheduled for October 19th on the road against Binghamton.