Brinkman Out as BC Head Coach, Remainder of Season Canceled After Hazing Allegations

by Riley Overend 73

January 12th, 2024 ACC, Coaching Changes, College, News

Boston College is canceling the remainder of its swimming season and parting ways with second-year head coach Joe Brinkman and the rest of the Eagles’ staff after disturbing allegations of hazing surfaced last September.

“We are grateful for the opportunity we had to work with the incredible student athletes during our time with the program,” Brinkman told SwimSwam.

BC is expected to bring back its combined men’s and women’s swim and dive program in the fall for the 2024-25 season. Many in Chestnut Hill were worried that the teams would be cut following their indefinite suspension last fall because of dwindling administrative support over the past decade. The Eagles are the only Power Five swimming program that doesn’t offer scholarships.

Last October, a Middlesex Superior Court judge rejected a request for temporary reinstatement by 37 members of BC’s swim and dive program. One day later, they dropped their lawsuit amid an ongoing investigation into allegations of hazing.

The Eagles are accused of pressuring freshmen to binge drink and wear bags of vomit around their necks during a team party in early September. BC administrators submitted court documents claiming the hazing event was a team tradition, and that members of the program had also been busted in 2022 for hazing.

However, the rumor that freshmen were encouraged to consume their own vomit — started by a letter from an administrator in the Office of the Deane of Students obtained by The Heights — was notably absent from the university’s legal defense.

It’s rare for colleges to self-suspend entire programs for hazing, but it has happened before. In 2015, Western Kentucky suspended its men’s and women’s swimming and diving program for five years in the wake of a hazing scandal that resulted in the termination of the coaching staff. Ultimately, the school cut the program.

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Former Big10
4 months ago

Is it really the only power five to offer no swimming scholarships?
Heard Duke doesn’t…?
Have a hard time believing the bottom tier ACC/Big10 are all fully funded. Is there a list that shows what schools are fully funded, partially, and not at all?

Popeye
4 months ago

Brinkman was horrible and the athletes showed ZERO respect for BC and the ENTIRE swimming & diving community. If you’re not gonna do it right, drop the program!

You’re a clown
Reply to  Popeye
4 months ago

This might be the worst take ever, you obviously don’t know anything so keep it to yourself

Captain Obvious
4 months ago

Firing Joe Brinkman serves no purpose. BC cites team “traditions” and “culture issues” and a 2022 hazing incident. None have anything to do with Brinkman, who was only there a year. BC needs to review the previous 50+ years, where Boston College alumni exclusively led the program and also filled most subordinate roles. With insider swim leadership since team inception and a new AD every two years, BC was clearly asleep at the wheel and looking to manage its own public perception and liability.

Admin
Reply to  Captain Obvious
4 months ago

I understand BC’s perspective that a coach is ultimately responsible for what happens in their program, and without having seen the results of the investigation, I don’t know exactly how much Brinkman knew or didn’t know or said or didn’t say.

But – given the circumstance at BC (no scholarships, and then the fallout of this), I likewise have a hard time believing they’re going to find a replacement of that caliber as a coach.

I assume the BC admin knows that too, and made this decision anyway.

Captain Obvious
Reply to  Braden Keith
4 months ago

Were the previous coaches held responsible in 2022?

I find it very hard to believe that a 30 year old alum head coach with an assistant, who actually swam with the ‘22 seniors, wouldn’t know what was going on with the team and may have even participated in “traditions” during their swim careers.

There must be more to this story. BC went totally medieval on these coaches, athletes and the program. The only reason to do that is to protect the house.

Mom of four
Reply to  Captain Obvious
4 months ago

All about protecting BC with complete disregard for talented student athletes and coaches. If this was a revenue generating sport it would have been handled quite differently, I’m sure.

BJ 👎 club
Reply to  Braden Keith
4 months ago

Which is further proof BC just wants to cut the team and this was the perfect opportunity. I’m sad it had to drag uninvolved and talented swimmers into it. I’m sad admin could not tell the team about season or coaching decision in person. Beyond sad for the seniors who have to end their swim careers this way. I’m sorry to the freshman who had to go through the lack of admin support and having their season cut, too. I’m sad to anyone who has to decide between transferring or basically ending their swim careers. Look at all the other swimswam articles. Other programs have had S.A’s, arrests, and legally proven hazing (BC swimmers have not been legally charged). Having… Read more »

Disgusted
Reply to  BJ 👎 club
4 months ago

BC’s new slogan should be “Men and Women for others, except if you’re a swimmer”

Disgusted
Reply to  Captain Obvious
4 months ago

If BC knew there were traditions and cultural issues and didn’t address it with appropriate education, etc. in early 2022 and then let 15 freshman join the team in the Fall of 2023 … imo, that’s completely irresponsible on the part of BC administrators. And then they treat these “alleged victims” so horribly causing severe emotional distress. They took ZERO responsibility for all their missteps and unprofessional handling of this entire situation.

Shame on BC!

BUrn Notice
Reply to  Disgusted
4 months ago

I award you a gold medal for mental gymnastics.

Disgusted
4 months ago

BC administration was deceitful, coercive and degrading through this whole process to everyone on the team. Even kids who weren’t on campus were called “disgusting” by an adult who was being paid to be a leader. How this situation was handled is the antithesis to US laws and the US constitution. But as a private institution they apparently can do what they want and however they want with no repercussions.

In the witness interrogation I attended as a “support person” the lawyers representing BC promised that these alleged victims would not be punished. So BC continues the punishment anyway regardless of promises made. When asked why, they turned around and terminated the entire coaching staff. Because if you don’t have… Read more »

swimapologist
Reply to  Disgusted
4 months ago

If you’re a BC parent, and it’s pretty clear that you are, I would like to ask the following clarifying question, because I’ve seen lots of sort of sideways-truths from you lot:

Did he says the kids are disgusting? Or that their behavior was disgusting?

Disgusted
Reply to  swimapologist
4 months ago

That the kids were disgusting

Disgusted
Reply to  Disgusted
4 months ago

ALL of them – 💯 character assassination – for 8 straight minutes. Some had only been in college for all of a week and weren’t even there the weekend in question.

Mom of four
Reply to  swimapologist
4 months ago

Also AD was completely disrespectful to all team members that met with him during the process. Team members that were completely cleared of involvements tried to get him to let them back in the pool. He refused to listen to them and just dismissed all of their arguments. In addition emails from students and parents expressing their passion for the team and some compassion for those not involved were completely ignored.

Also the coward sent the team an email regarding suspension through August and didn’t respect them enough to deliver the message in person. Once again covering himself and completely disrespecting talented athletes who had no involvement.

joannietheswimmer
Reply to  Mom of four
4 months ago

ADs seem to be biased against swim programs. No revenue. Check out what is happening at Cal Poly. Coach suspended for abuse behavior and the “investigation” was a sham so he can be brought back!

bestsportever
Reply to  Mom of four
4 months ago

Not only did he refuse to listen to the innocent athletes, he told them that because of the lawsuit he didn’t feel he should let them back in the pool. In other words, at the end of the investigation, the continued punishment is RETRIBUTION and they made up some “culture” B.S. (which had nothing to do with most of the current athletes).

DrSwimPhil
4 months ago

Not sure if I’m missing it, but by the strict definition in terms of NCAA Eligibility, every swimmer then technically redshirted this year…?

SwimMom
4 months ago

Hi- I am the parent of a BC swimmer. First, Joe Brinkman is a class act, and did nothing to deserve being fired. Second- yes several college kids/ BC swimmers made some bad decisions, but the entire swim team should not be deemed hazers- not by any stretch of the imagination. These kids work really hard, and in this instance, they partied hard. But all of the events were consensual. Sadly, the BC administration truly does not care about the well being of our children. One day, the true details of this situation will come to light- but BJ/ Leahy excel at cashing gigantic tuition checks and crushing kids dreams.

Wheeler Walker Jr
Reply to  SwimMom
4 months ago

They did party hard. Those few swimmers partied their teammates out of a season and a man his job.

Consenting or not they acted in an atrocious manner and if they never did this there is no problem.

Those swimmers didn’t make a mistake the hurt a person you call a class act. Let’s hope the class clowns grow up.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  SwimMom
4 months ago

But all of the events were consensual

comment image

LifeisUnfair
Reply to  Steve Nolan
4 months ago

Actually, all facts are in evidence. But thanks for the cool graphic.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  LifeisUnfair
4 months ago

hey man do me a favor – pick out any definition of “hazing” you want that doesn’t completely negate the part of that post I quoted.

You cannot consent to hazing. That’s like, the whole deal.

But thanks for the cool, “ackshually.”

SwimMom
Reply to  Steve Nolan
4 months ago

That’s our point. There was no hazing. There was college partying- but NO HAZING TOOK PLACE.

Yeah that’s right
Reply to  Steve Nolan
4 months ago

I think Boston College’s definition of hazing was purposely broadened so they could justify charging the maximum amount of people in order to protect themselves from scrutiny after they released a negligent press report. They initially said hazing was found weeks before an investigative process occurred, every new story picks it up, so then BC have to blow it up and make the kids look as bad as possible in order to protect themselves. If they don’t get big numbers to be charged, they look bad. They messed up with the initial report and everything subsequently has been in response to that. Kindly put, BC has no spine and never really has.

Last edited 4 months ago by Will McKinney
Steve Nolan
Reply to  Yeah that’s right
4 months ago

Oh no, don’t get me wrong – I am far from a fan of BC.

And I have no idea what BC’s definition of hazing is, but the stuff that keeps being described in these posts is very clearly hazing.

Big Fan
4 months ago

This is just terrible. Joe and Brian are fantastic and were building incredible momentum. They had absolutely nothing to do with the events in question. Note the school is not releasing a report as there was nothing found but some drinking that got out of control. Education and discussion, yes. Dismantling careers and pausing promising student athletes collegiate careers, no.

Bottom of ACC or not (who cares?), there is some incredible talent on the team… and committed for the fall.

Blake James really messed this one up in the fall by prematurely releasing (now we know as false) information publicly before a thorough investigation. The only fit mea culpa I see at this point is to present the… Read more »

sadfan
4 months ago

Joe and Brian are amazing coaches. Wishing them the very best. Very sad day for BC and I would assume this is the nail in the coffin for BC swim & dive. With no coaches and no admin support, the team is–all but in name–a cut program.

swimgeek
Reply to  sadfan
4 months ago

That’s a reasonable assumption (that the program is finished) — but there have been multiple recent commits of fast swimmers who would make a major impact at BC — and certainly could have swum at numerous other schools. I would be shocked if those swimmers made those commitments without an assurance from the BC Athletic Dept that there will, indeed, be a team for 2024-25 (and Braden has confirmed the same).

Last edited 4 months ago by swimgeek
Happy Slappy
Reply to  swimgeek
4 months ago

The athletic dept can’t even field a team with the athletes that are there….they certainly can’t commit to kids that are not enrolled yet.

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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