Cal Athletic Director Says Teri McKeever Investigation Could Take Six Months

The investigation launched by the University of California Berkeley into head women’s swimming coach Teri McKeever won’t be over anytime soon.

In a video call on Tuesday night, Cal athletic director Jim Knowlton told team parents that the investigation could take up to six months, according to the Orange County Register, which also noted that the call “often became heated.”

On May 24, a number of current and former Cal swimmers alleged that McKeever had been verbally and emotionally abusing members of the team over an extended period of time, which led the 29-year head coach to be placed on administrative leave the following day.

Cal then hired an independent law firm to investigate McKeever.

Knowlton reportedly acknowledged that some of McKeever’s alleged bullying took place on his watch, having been hired as AD in April 2018, but parents expressed frustration and anger over the school’s overall handling of the situation.

The OC Register says that both in the meeting and in interviews Wednesday, parents were upset about Knowlton and Cal’s failed response to the allegations, the lack of a plan for current team members moving forward, and the university’s commitment to investigating other coaches or officials who ignored reports or enabled McKeever’s misconduct.

There was also a general reaction of surprise “and in some cases outrage” that Knowlton concluded the video call, which included approximately 30 parents, by yelling, “Go Bears!”

“The general take away from the meeting is the lack of urgency on something that should have been taken care of a long time ago,” the parent of a current Cal swimmer said.

One parent said the response from Cal “seems inconsistent with truly taking the steps that lead to getting to the truth, resolving this issue and moving on as quickly as possible.

“The pace and speed doesn’t bring a lot of confidence to the parent group that (Cal) is willing to do a true investigation and get to the truth.”

Another parent noted that the call “seemed thrown together with no agenda. I really felt like it was put out there to gauge us.”

In addition to the external investigation from LA-based law firm Munger, Tolles & Olson, McKeever is also being formally investigated by Cal’s Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination after she allegedly used a racial epithet and profanities in disparaging rap music, according to six swimmers and three parents familiar with the conversation.

The investigation into the incident will initially focus on potential racial discrimination but could be expanded to also consider possible discrimination based on sexual orientation and national origin, according to confidential university documents obtained by the Southern California News Group (SCNG).

McKeever has also been reported to be under investigation by the U.S. Center for SafeSport, according to The OC Register, though she doesn’t appear in the database as of June 2. SwimSwam has reached out to SafeSport for further clarification on the matter.

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Stanfordswimfan
1 month ago

Is there any realistic scenario that McKeever could be reinstated with all of these allegations? I vote no. Coaches are fired for much less everyday and California is an at-will employment state, meaning employers don’t need a reason to fire someone. So why drag this out? It will only serve to further wound an already wounded team. After 29 years, it’s time for McKeever to move on and retire.

The Cal women deserve a top tier, respectful, beloved coach and the time to hire that coach is now. They deserve better.

anonymous
Reply to  Stanfordswimfan
1 month ago

I don’t think a top coach would leave their safe position to come into this hostile, messy environment.

Greg
1 month ago

A major civil lawsuit would get Cal’s attention. I don’t know if this is already in the works – Braden indicated in today’s breakdown that it was (likely?) a lawyer who interviewed everyone and gathered evidence for the big OC Register article, but my impression is that it was just good investigative journalism. Either way, it seems like this is something that needs to happen to get any real meaningful change to happen. I haven’t heard anything about a legal investigation and I don’t have faith that will happen.

But money talks – and unless it’s a slew of major alums/donors withholding funds – a major civil lawsuit (and all the negative press that will bring) seems like the… Read more »

Ilikeswimming
Reply to  Greg
1 month ago

It was the journalist of the OC Register that did the whole investigation.

anonymous
Reply to  Greg
1 month ago

Cal is taking this seriously. They have hired a top law firm to investigate this.

Law & Order
Reply to  anonymous
1 month ago

That law firm was hired to simply cover their rears. It insulates the University and Administrators by relying on the unimpeachable expertise of the name brand they are forking the cash over to. Big Law firms love doing these “investigations” because its impossible for them to lose. And you dont need the keenest of legal minds in the country to interview people and ask them what happened.

anonymous
Reply to  Law & Order
1 month ago

Cal would be foolish to not protect themselves. The law firm is not going to just interview people.

greenandwhitegod
1 month ago

At least the Cal parents were given a call by the AD. UCLA just wrapped it’s 6 month investigation into Jordan Wolfrum and not only was it all swept under the rug (get ready Cal) but the parents were not even given the courtesy of an email explaining it, not to mention a call. Is this a UC thing???

Eric B
Reply to  greenandwhitegod
1 month ago

What are the parents involved at all for? These athletes are adults. In what other sport do parents of the students think they are entitled to anything from the college or administration?
Teri is an egomaniac. She is rude, abrasive, controlling and thinks the world revolves around her. She is also not abusive despite what 20 out of the thousands of athletes Teri has coached say. As i recall, college “kids” have a tendency to exaggerate and there is another side to the story. Teri will ultimately be fired but this isn’t as clear cut as parents are making it out to be.

Law & Order
Reply to  Eric B
1 month ago

We’re talking about a Cal Swimmer who was involuntarily held for psychiatric evaluation.
“5150”. We are also talking about a Chief of Staff in the IAD who was the Senior Administrator for Women’s Sport in which McKeever is the godmother of her eldest daughter. The Administrator simply passed the buck when a swimmer suffering from Crohn’s Disease was “outed” to the rest of the team by McKeever. This clearly is a violation of federal privacy law. But nothing happened to “Teflon Teri”.

#IStandWithTerri
1 month ago

Kids too soft these days too much Tik Tok and SSRIs

Snarky
Reply to  #IStandWithTerri
1 month ago

And will fall with her too.

Law & Order
Reply to  #IStandWithTerri
1 month ago

You cant even spell her name right in your screen name.
Troll.

Taa
1 month ago

The parents don’t attend the university so they can all get lost is what I would tell them. They are not a party to the abuse. The AD should shore up the coaching situation asap. The program is now a proverbial dumpster fire it seems that a 1year interim coach would allow them to attract a more qualified applicant pool next spring.

Oldswimdad
Reply to  Taa
1 month ago

Food for thought! It’s highly probable that every one of these kids will at some point in the near future be face to face with a number of attorneys either for or against on multiple occasions. They will be asked to corroborate or contradict and in the end sign statements. I can only speak for my kids and I am certain that they would be reaching out to myself and my wife for our thoughts and guidance. We would also need to be involved in helping them determine whether they or other swimmers might want to have their own legal representation. Additionally, we would want to make sure that their interests and the interests of their team mates were first… Read more »

Swordle
Reply to  Oldswimdad
1 month ago

Of course parents will want to be involved especially in legal matters. At what point does son/daughter communication to parents become the son/daughters responsibility? College athletes are generally 18+ years old and considered adults. Universities can not give information out to parents unless their child (who is considered an adult) signs a legal form allowing the university to share their information front grades to medical.

As parents, families, spectators, and fans we should not expect a University to tell us everything about a person (who again is of legal age and considered an adult). That comes from your son/daughter. What your son/daughter decides to tell you, is completely up to them. There may be times where sons/daughters are afraid to… Read more »

greenandwhitegod
Reply to  Swordle
1 month ago

Let’s be clear, these schools have no problem asking for donations, volunteer help etc from the families of the swimmers. These programs should offer this information to them as a transparency effort or else what are they hiding?

anonymous
Reply to  greenandwhitegod
1 month ago

18 and older are legally adults and privacy laws are in effect. The young adult has to sign release of information forms for the school to be able to release information to parents.

Curious Bored
Reply to  Oldswimdad
1 month ago

(Sound of helicopters hovering)

BearlyBreathing
Reply to  Taa
1 month ago

My guess is that 99% of recruiting occurs when the swimmer is a minor. At that point, the decision to commit rests with both swimmer and parents. The parents are obvious stakeholders and are committed to the success of their kids as part of that school’s team. I believe that any athletic department or university administration owes the parents a minimum of respect by involving them in something like this since they were there from the start. They may have even been involved before the current coach or AD.

Curious Bored
Reply to  BearlyBreathing
1 month ago

University’s hands tied legally…up to each 18+ year old to involve parent if they wish to do so. The military doesn’t directly involve parents either do they now.

Law & Order
Reply to  Taa
1 month ago

You must not be very close to the Cal Athletic program.
The AD comes from a military background and was the former AD at the Air Force Academy.

He has zero real world private sector business acumen. Anyone with an ounce of brain cells would do all that they can to avoid dragging this dumpster fire out for a 6 MONTH INVESTIGATION. The AD is incompetent.

Susan
1 month ago

Out of hundreds of swimmers over 29 years, are any of them coming forward in her defense? I think the dumbest allegation is her singing along to a rap song? Do these parents have a clue about college age girls, and what they actually do when mommy is not around? That being said, I have seen nothing from her Olympians1

Admin
Reply to  Susan
1 month ago

I think I’ve seen 1 former swimmer come forward defending her in the comments.

I’m not sure your characterization of the accusation about the rap music is accurate. Probably worth re-reading that part of the report.

Snarky
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 month ago

Susan doesn’t want facts to get in the way of her preconceived ideas.

afever
Reply to  Braden Keith
1 month ago

There have been more than one former swimmer defending her. Not a ton, although who wants to get involved in this?

Snarky
Reply to  afever
1 month ago

Well the OC Register has apparently spoken to 34 current and former swimmers who have spoken out against Teri—15 more than when their initial story broke. I doubt 10% of the number have spoken in her favor and certainly none who have spoke positively have stated that they never witnessed bullying.

Last edited 1 month ago by Snarky
Law & Order
Reply to  afever
1 month ago

Care to name names of Cal Swimmers or Alums that have defended McKeever?
I cant find any besides a sports reporter who is a USC alum who has been friends with Teri for decades. – – – Meanwhile, Coughlan and Franklin have been silent.

swim
Reply to  Law & Order
1 month ago
snarky
Reply to  swim
1 month ago

Notably she did not say that she never saw Teri bullying or abusing others just that her experience was relatively positive. Let’s not forget that a bully doesn’t always bully everyone.

swim
Reply to  snarky
1 month ago

Agree 100%. Not a fan of her post in the slightest, but just something that was seen online.

Last edited 1 month ago by swim
anonymous
Reply to  Susan
1 month ago

In a way former Olympians and champions have been quieted by hostility either they were favorites and above abuse or they saw/suffered abuse but didn’t report it.

Law & Order
Reply to  anonymous
1 month ago

Interestingly enough, Missy Franklin left Cal.
And when she decided to come back, she chose not to swim for McKeever, but for the Men’s Coach Durden.

anonymous
Reply to  Law & Order
1 month ago

She went pro and got a lot of money from endorsements.

swim
Reply to  Susan
1 month ago
Last edited 1 month ago by swim
Former Big10
Reply to  swim
1 month ago

Lotta bot accounts and old people. Didn’t count a whole lot of former Cal swimmers, did you? There were maybe five.

BearlyBreathing
1 month ago

>the lack of a plan for current team members moving forward
The whole situation is positively shameful but I find this particularly so. The administration is busy covering their asses and trying to limit financial and legal liability but what are the current team members supposed to do in the meantime?
Maybe plan to redshirt the team for 22-23 for any remaining team members. I fully expect many if not most will leave.
What a train wreck.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  BearlyBreathing
1 month ago

Hiring an external law firm isn’t exactly covering one’s ass. That firm will ultimately report to the Regents.

Law & Order
Reply to  BearlyBreathing
1 month ago

The AD has a military background and was the former AD at Air Force.
He’s literally a “fish out of water”.
Incompetent.

snarky
1 month ago

Golden parachutes all around the athletic department.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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