Cal Hires Law Firm To Investigate Head Swim Coach Teri McKeever

The University of California, Berkeley has hired a law firm to investigate head women’s swim coach Teri McKeever, according to a report from The OC Register.

The law firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson will conduct a formal investigation into the allegations that surfaced earlier this week, where a number of current and former swimmers stepped forward and alleged McKeever of bullying and verbal abuse that spanned decades.

The firm is launching the investigation in response to a Southern California News Group investigation that revealed that at least six Cal women’s swimmers had contemplated suicide since 2018 due to McKeever’s abuse.

In the initial report from The OC Register, swimmers who swam at Berkeley prior to 2018 also spoke out with similar claims.

McKeever was placed on administrative leave by the university on Wednesday, a move that UC Berkeley made after she was permitted to attend morning practice the day after the allegations surfaced. That led to a majority of the swimmers walking out on the workout.

While the initial report said that 19 current or former swimmers, six parents and one former member of the men’s team at Cal spoke out, the latest from The OC Register notes that the number has increased by five current and former swimmers, two additional parents, along with two former employees of the Cal athletic department.

The OC Register also says that McKeever is under investigation by the U.S. Center for SafeSport, and that USA Swimming was made aware of the allegations against McKeever in 2015. Despite that, she was named to the staff for the 2019 World Championships.

The OC Register says at least three swimmers have been contacted by SafeSport, though she’s currently not listed in the database.

McKeever, 60, has been the head coach of the Cal women’s swimming team for the past 29 seasons.

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Zinn
20 days ago

This multi decade abuse didn’t happen because McKeever cleverly hid her bullying, demeaning, sick behavior from all. She put it out there for the world to see. And because she as successfull those who had the power to stop the behavior remained complicit for multi years.

McKeever should never coach again. And any personal awards, physical accolades should be stripped from the walls of the University Of California-Berkeley, placed in a pile and burned in effigy.

Finally those who were complicit should be outed and appropriately disciplined to the point of termination. And the University owes compensation for all those who were abused over the course of their time on the UC Women’s Swimming Team. This type of abuse… Read more »

oldswimguy
1 month ago

About 7 years ago, on my son’s northeast US swim team, there was an elite female swimmer being recruited. I was surprised where she ended up and a couple of years after she was recruited I was talking to her mom about the recruiting experience. This parent point blank told me they had heard of McKeever’s abusive manner and the rumor was reinforced during the time she was recruiting this athlete. So, this issue has been going on for a long time. Cal. should have dealt with it years ago. The issue itself has been a longstanding one. I swam collegiately in the 1970s and there was a very successful rival coach that was fat shaming his swimmers back then.… Read more »

Oldswimdad
1 month ago

Being involved in kids sports across multiple disciplines for many years both age group and NCAA, my hope is that all coaches out there take a long hard look at their own behaviour and compare it to the behaviours in these articles. That they ask themselves whether or not the unacceptable treatment of athletes and others is something they and their coaching colleagues are guilty of. If so they consciously adopt a RESPECT approach to everyone they deal with on an always basis. There are many coaches who exemplify the RESPECT behaviour every day, there are others who don’t.

Additionally, I would hope that the days of the “Untouchable” and “Protected” coaches who exemplify the alleged behaviour in this specific… Read more »

At a loss
Reply to  Oldswimdad
1 month ago

I agree with your sentiments; however, many of these “untouchable” coaches have little self-awareness and low emotional intelligence, at least from my experience. I have seen some administrators operate the same way sadly. Until these people are actually held accountable, there will be little change. Alumni and donor money talks. Withholding it speaks volumes.

Oldswimdad
Reply to  At a loss
1 month ago

I think it’s less about “little self awareness and low emotional intelligence” and much more about the structure of employee/ coach reward and recognition metrics and evaluation criteria set by the organizations. I’m a big believer in the adage show me how someone is paid and it will tell you how they behave. If someone is rewarded on a winning means everything as opposed to a how we win basis and accountability is framed accordingly then the organization leaves itself open to unwelcome outcomes.

Coach Macgyver
Reply to  Oldswimdad
1 month ago

Agreed. There should be a performance metrics that

1. Highlights retention. They are students first. If a student-athlete is leaving because of sport, then that should be factored in

2. Improvement across the board. Most colleges are given performance bonuses and incentives based on individual performances. This is great and should be rewarded, but it can and has become a distraction for coaches. It that doesn’t much incentive for the coach to work with the “Rudy’s” of the team.

Our team gives performance bonuses based on VCC score. This places wanted pressure on us coaches to look after everyone. Doesn’t mean we just forget about the top talent, we can still hone in on that. But it helps… Read more »

Xman
Reply to  Coach Macgyver
1 month ago

Every school has different requirements especially when you include mid major d2 and d3.

There are schools that care about the size of the team and retention (how many come to swim and stay students), others care about winning and so on.

krazy
Reply to  Coach Macgyver
1 month ago

Racking my brain but what is VCC?

Coach Macgyver
Reply to  krazy
1 month ago

Virtual championship score. USA swimmings way of balancing small and large clubs. Still favors large clubs, but it’s a pretty solid balance sheet for athletes 11-18.

krazy
Reply to  Coach Macgyver
1 month ago

Thanks

traertriclub
Reply to  Oldswimdad
1 month ago

Great post. I agree. However, until USAS stops promoting/elevating them, those types of coaches aren’t leaving and therefore still damaging athletes.

dcw
Reply to  Oldswimdad
1 month ago

This bullying behavior is rampant in sports. Sport is 10 years behind in social norms. I have recently left a local so cal. swim team because the coach was a bully. Nothing in the OCR article about Terry was as bad as the remarks this age group coach made to me. I filed a complaint to USA Swim and SCS and nothing! Frankly nothing these abusive coaches do is against any safe sport rule. The body shaming is probably somewhere there but the other 90% of the comments aren’t breaking any rule, other that the rule of common decency. THAT IS WHAT NEEDS TO BE FIXED. Make the rules protect kids, not deal with aftermath.

Wirotomo
1 month ago

It’s too late, baby, now it’s too late
Though you really did try to make it
😊

swimster
1 month ago

to this I say

Keep going

So many more verbal and emotional abusers out there who are coaching little kids, not just college students. College students are adults and if it’s unacceptable to treat adult athletes this way, it should be 100x as unacceptable to treat swimmers under the age of 18 this way.

Keep going.

Seli''s Lover
1 month ago

Durden should take over the women’s program . I am still waiting statements from big names like Coughlin, Vollmer, Leverenz, Bootsma, Pelton, Franklin, Osman, and the Fab four (Weirzel, Baker, Bilquist and Mclaughlin).

Mom
Reply to  Seli''s Lover
1 month ago

Yes, having Durden at least help out with their workouts and guide Jessie, would be a big boost for these ladies! They are going through emotional turmoil and feel very uncertain with what the future holds! They want to enjoy swimming again!!!!! Don’t leave them out to dry! Help Jessie, who was thrown into this situation and shouldn’t be left to sink! The program has so much history and present talent that needs to shine with a healthy and positive environment!

Women’s equity
Reply to  Seli''s Lover
1 month ago

Very short sided. NO HE SHOULDN’T! Keep the teams separate and hire a qualified female coach!

mikeh
1 month ago

Heaven knows I am no fan of Cal Berkeley, and I’ve never been blown away by Terry McKeever when I’ve heard her give talks. But I think we should slow down in condemning her so vociferously just yet. It’s important to keep in mind that coach Terry, like every other educator, is facing a generation of kids who have been taught to value their personal self-expression, self-actualization, and emotional tranquility over literally everything else. It is no exaggeration to state that this has become the main purpose of our lives and even our civilization.

Keep that in mind when you read these lurid accounts of her alleged actions. I’m sure there is a grain of truth there, but remember… Read more »

Swammer123
Reply to  mikeh
1 month ago

I hear you at a highest of levels, where you are saying she deserves a fair trail and thats going to be hard given the scenario.
At the same time, her success as a coach shouldnt count for much here to be honest.
Maybe she shouldnt go to jail but she sure shouldnt be educating kids of any level. It neither here nor there what the generation is like and how its different. These are young, very maliable humans that need to not be bullied by their coach, maybe that was normal in the past but it isnt now (not to get into if it was right or wrong previously either).
Get with the times of get… Read more »

Steve Nolan
Reply to  mikeh
1 month ago

It’s important to keep in mind that coach Terry, like every other educator, is facing a generation of kids who have been taught to value their personal self-expression, self-actualization, and emotional tranquility over literally everything else.

This is incredibly, almost pathologically, wrong.

You can just as easily, and with more evidence, claim that kids these days are scheduled to within an inch of their lives since they first learn to talk and to maximize their potential marketability at each stage of their lives. That’s not “soft.” Kids work much, much harder now than they ever had and to assume they’re all just fragile li’l snowflakes that can’t take criticism is, for the lack of a better term, a bunch… Read more »

Coach Macgyver
Reply to  Steve Nolan
1 month ago

You put words out there… you quoted words mikeh did not say. That is pathologically delusional.

You can say kids have it harder than ever, but it many ways, they do not. Wheel turns both ways. But then again, we’ve seen how much you love to describe experiences you have never had.

Let the lawyers and the process determine what the personal attacks are.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Coach Macgyver
1 month ago

What’re you talking about? I literally just copy/pasted what they posted.

If you think the McKeever quote from the article is somehow out of bounds or not a personal attack, I don’t know what to tell you. Because I’m not misrepresenting those quotes, mikeh is.

Last edited 1 month ago by Steve Nolan
Coach Macgyver
Reply to  Steve Nolan
1 month ago

Yes you have incredible copy/paste skills. Congrats but you quoted him saying “soft.” He didn’t say soft.

I have nothing to say on McKeever and either should you. You weren’t there.

swimmer
Reply to  mikeh
1 month ago

Those top level swimmers came to Cal as top level swimmers. And they worked their derriere off to be the world best swimmers. You are putting way too much reliance on a brutal coach that verbally abused these swimmers on a daily basis. Coach Teri crossed the line. Teri’s successes and accomplishments are diminished to nothing in my eyes.

Last edited 1 month ago by swimmer
swimmer
Reply to  mikeh
1 month ago

Not sure I can agree with your statement.

Last edited 1 month ago by swimmer
Abuse is real
Reply to  mikeh
1 month ago

As a swimmer who experienced a culture of abuse created by a U.S. Olympic coach, no amount of success or gold medals justifies this kind of toxicity. My experience was decades ago, but this story is all too familiar. The coach I’m talking about is a sociopath who sexually abused under aged girls, but with tons of accolades as his shield, he has evaded accountability and enjoys his freedom. The swimmers who thrived under his coaching were a handful who survived the grind of attrition and were placed on pedestals. The coach fawned over them constantly while berating the rest of the team because they were his meal ticket. Anyone who couldn’t make an Olympic team or set world records… Read more »

greenandwhitegod
Reply to  mikeh
1 month ago

Gosh you don’t sound like a parent of this generation from which you speak or else you would understand it’s not that simple for these kids and each generation should be better than the one before it–that is called progress my friend.

John jay
Reply to  mikeh
1 month ago

Most of the swimmers that came there were already really really really good. It’s ridiculous to tell me that you couldn’t have coached them do nearly what they did.. let’s see what Cal men’s swim coach and Dukes college basketball coach could do with average athletes.. every high-level team in college has some of the best athletes in the world. You’re not starting from scratch.. she’s been on a power trip and has been her whole career.

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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