At the press conference held today by Utah State University President David Pershing and Athletic Director Chris Hill, they revealed the findings of an independent investigation of former coach Greg Winslow’s conduct during his tenure as the head swim coach. This investigation, which began in March of this year, reviewed allegations of physical abuse and inappropriate behavior by Mr. Winslow. The University was forced to conduct such an investigation after learning of a police report filed against Mr. Winslow by one of his former swimmers when he was the head coach at Sun Devil Aquatics.
The investigation only covers Mr. Winslow’s six-year tenure at the University. The independent investigation found that the University should have terminated Mr. Winslow in early 2012 for alcohol problems that “were corrosive to the entire team.” This finding was the only reason the report gave for firing Mr. Winslow. The investigators concluded that no physical abuse or sexual activity occurred with any of Mr. Winslow’s swimmers while he coached at the University. Additionally, he was cleared of any alleged racial discrimination. The investigators did not issue a position on the allegations of psychological abuse during training sessions as “training methods are subjective.”
While President Pershing and Mr. Hill emotionally discussed the investigation and issued apologies, one of Mr. Winslow’s former swimmers, Austin Fiascone, was dismayed at the findings. Mr. Fiascone initiated the University’s internal investigation into Mr. Winslow in 2012 based upon the verbal abuse he suffered from Mr. Winslow over a three-year period. Mr. Fiascone also brought to the school’s attention Mr. Winslow’s drinking and inappropriate racial comments and other behavior on the pool deck. After an internal investigation, the University’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action cleared Mr. Winslow of any wrongdoing.
Mr. Fiascone tells us today that he “hopes this investigation is not the end of the story.” He is calling on the NCAA to impose immediate sanctions on the University, Mr. Hill, and President Pershing for allowing Mr. Winslow to continue to coach after being aware from many sources that Mr. Winslow had an alcohol problem. “I hope [the Winslow matter] help end the culture of protecting university systems. The culture should be that of protecting the student-athlete – not the coach,” says Mr. Fiascone. He believes a “hard stand by the NCAA against Utah will be a great first step” of developing that culture. Mr. Fiascone’s official statement follows:
I’d like to start by saying I’m marginally pleased to see that the University of Utah took the bare minimum amount of responsibility for their failures. That being said, I am absolutely appalled that the University of Utah can say they have found fault with Dr. Hill’s complete lack of action but have no real consequences for his repeated failure as Athletic Director. They should feel ashamed, the state of Utah should be ashamed and any alum of the University should be ashamed. The lack of consequences for Dr. Hill only furthers the University’s reputation as an institution that will protect its staff at all costs while neglecting the students that they are supposed to be protecting.
The NCAA must act to stop the cycle of institutional negligence when it comes to their athletes. The University of Utah has currently not made any indication that they will help those student-athletes who were affected by Winslow’s wrath and Dr. Hill’s incompetence. It is clear now they had knowledge of what was going on and did nothing substantial to stop it. They allowed Winslow to remain as coach and in contact with high school age recruits who were visiting the school.
What the University has done to this point about the situation has not been enough. They must take drastic measures to regain some of their integrity.