U.S. National Teamer Abrahm DeVine admitted to Stanford’s student newspaper that he “drank at a Team USA swim meet instead of showing up to support his teammates,” but still stands by his accusations that the real reason he was denied a place in Stanford’s pro training group was his sexuality.
DeVine went public last week on Instagram, accusing the Stanford swimming & diving program of homophobia and saying he was “kicked off the Stanford swim team.” DeVine had already exhausted his NCAA eligibility, but coaches of the Stanford men’s and women’s programs said DeVine was “not invited” to remain on the team as a postgraduate.
At the time, DeVine’s Instagram post said that “there are surface level reasons I was kicked off the Stanford swim team, but I can tell you with certainty that it comes down to the fact that I am gay.” We asked both DeVine and the program about those ‘surface level’ reasons and did not receive any specific details. But DeVine told The Stanford Daily in a statement that he had violated the National Team’s Honor Code by drinking at a Team USA meet, rather than showing up to support his teammates.
DeVine has since tried to clarify his Instagram post, saying it was less about calling out specific coaches and more trying to draw attention to what he calls a “systemic issue” in which he felt alienated as a gay swimmer within the culture of the team and the sport at large. Per The Stanford Daily report:
“I think that I wrote this entire Instagram post where every sentence is very important, but the only one that people are really focusing on is me calling out Stanford, and that makes my message sound very aggressive and that I’m out for blood, when in reality that is not what I wanted at all,” DeVine said. “I’m here to just say this is a systemic issue.
“Between coaches and other athletes, I feel there is so much ignorance to what it means to be gay in a sports world that my character is not recognized,” he said in his statement. “Although I feel I can participate by being silent and non-disruptive, I feel that my identity as a gay man is incompatible with the swimming world.”
DeVine went on to say that homophobic slurs were common on the Stanford team before he publicly came out:
“What I really wanted was some thought and reflection on where [the homophobia] was coming from, on why you think gay equals bad,” he said in the Stanford student newspaper piece. “And I think what actually happened was like, ‘Oh shoot. We can’t really say these [slurs] anymore. We might still think it’s kind of funny, but we’re going to censor ourselves.’”
DeVine also references coaches “appealing to masculine stereotypes to motivate swimmers and teammates mocking topics such as fragility and privilege.” He also challenged his coaches’ ability to coach gay athletes:
“If you ask any of these coaches, ‘What do you think about gay swimmers?’ they would say, ‘That’s great. I support equality, I support gay swimmers, sexuality doesn’t matter to me at all,’” DeVine said to the Stanford paper. “And then you can ask, well, ‘Why have you never coached a successful gay athlete and what do you think are the obstacles facing them?’ They will have no response.”
We asked the school for comment last week when DeVine made his Instagram post. At the time, they only provided this joint statement from the women’s head coach Greg Meehan and men’s head coach Dan Schemmel:
“It is truly unfortunate Abe feels this way. That said, Abe wasn’t invited back to train with us this fall, as a postgraduate, for reasons entirely unrelated to his sexuality. We take pride in the inclusivity and supportiveness that exists on both our men’s and women’s teams, but we will continue to strive, as always, to improve those aspects of our culture.”