Emily Gantriis Details Two Years of Teri McKeever’s Recent Bullying at Cal

by Riley Overend 56

June 17th, 2022 College, News, Pac-12

In the latest story by the OC Register, Emily Gantriis detailed two years of bullying she endured from Cal women’s swim and dive head coach Teri McKeever.

The NCAA champion is the first member of last year’s team to come forward publicly after McKeever was placed on administrative leave May 25 following dozens of allegations of abuse. Gantriis is one of at least six swimmers who has either transferred or entered the NCAA’s transfer portal since the season’s end. She said she will likely transfer to Wisconsin or Louisville. 

The bullying occurred almost daily, Gantriis’ journals revealed, and it included McKeever trying to convince her that she had a mental illness.  

“Teri convinced me and other team members that I had psychological problems,” said Gantriis, a three-time Pac-12 champion. “I never had any problems before coming to Cal. She told me multiple times I was mentally ill, just as she did to other swimmers she targeted. I was already seeing a sports psychologist and a therapist because I needed professional help on how to cope with the way Teri treated myself and others. However, Teri told me that counseling was required before I could come back to practice. She made me meet with a life coach, who also happened to be a good friend of hers. When I told my feelings to the life coach, she would respond with: ‘Have you never had a coach scream at you before?’ She invalidated my feelings and made me feel like I was overly sensitive for feeling upset.

“I stopped seeing her because I liked my own certified psychologist more. Teri later blamed me for not talking with the life coach, but I wasn’t the only one on the team who had problems with her methods. Two months before I was required to talk with the life coach one-on-one, Teri brought her in to do an activity with our entire team. We all taped a blank piece of paper on our backs. Then, we all had to go around and write what each of our teammates should keep doing, and what they should stop doing. When we got home, we could take off the piece of paper and read it. Many of my teammates were in tears after receiving such negative anonymous feedback. I remember thinking how wrong the ‘team building’ exercise was, but because no one did or said anything it was very normalized.”

In addition to her own experience as a victim, Gantriis also confirmed that she had been interviewed by the university’s Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination as part of a formal investigation regarding McKeever’s use of a racial epithet and profanities while disparaging rap music. Gantriis claimed that McKeever targeted freshmen Stephanie Akakabota and Reed Broaders, both African American, for regular verbal and emotional abuse. Gantriis and four other members of the 2021-22 squad also said McKeever repeatedly made comments about an African American swimmer’s appearance this past academic year.

“I’m just happy this is out and Teri is never going to be able to coach again,” Gantriis said in an interview with SCNG. “Because I don’t want anyone else to have to go through this hell again.”

Gantriis explained that the pressure of McKeever’s coaching contributed to her disqualifying the 400 medley relay team at the 2021 NCAA Championships. 

“My last event of the night was the 400 medley relay,” Gantriis said. “I was swimming the freestyle leg. As I stood on the block, anticipating my teammate’s finish, I kept telling myself, ‘Emily, do not jump too slow, do not jump too slow, do not jump too slow.’ I was so traumatized from Teri leaving practice in anger that one day a week prior, and I did not want to witness her reaction to another delayed relay start. Paralyzed with fear, I accidentally dove into the water 2 or 3/100 of a second too early and disqualified the relay.”

As seems to be a common thread throughout the recent McKeever saga, Cal administrators failed to take action when told about the decorated coach’s pattern of alleged mistreatment. In fact, McKeever even bragged about her relationship to Cal Athletics’ second-in-command Jennifer Simon-O’Neill, who is also her goddaughter

“Teri assured me that anything I told Jenny would not be taken seriously, because Jenny believed her and not me,” Gantriis said.

“The school failed dealing with this because of Teri’s success and the conflict of interest there was!” she wrote in her journal. “This abuse was only possible because the school administration did not listen. I can understand if two or three swimmers complained. However, if more than 40% have transferred or stopped on a team that shows that there is a problem!

“Jenny Simon O’Neil would have Teri’s back and not the athletes. I talked with Jenny and her response was just that ‘it sounded like me and Teri were not a personality match’ and ‘Teri had great success and was a phenomenal coach.’

“I had a meeting with (an athletic department administrator) where he just told me that the next step was to meet with Jenny Simon-O’Neil. It took me a lot of courage to even talk with them and it was first after I decided to transfer, I had the courage because I had nothing to lose. However, no one would listen, and I knew I was not the first that had tried to contact them. It is so hard to prove verbal abuse because there is such a fine line between tough coaching and abuse, but Teri definitely went over that line.”

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swimflats
3 months ago

Same situation for teammates at GT. GTAA silent.

Last edited 3 months ago by swimflats
Hello
3 months ago

NCAA athletics has become a business and coaches lives are tied to success. They don’t view athletes as humans. Simply means by which they can collect the next pay check because they no they have absolutely no other career prospects. It is disgusting.

Sooner NCAA Swimmers realize they are wasting their lives, the better.

lbn001
3 months ago

Shades of what went on at Arkansas swimming where 16 went into the transfer portal. The ladies that were able to find programs will never be the same.My friends daughter lost a ton of credits since transferring to her new school and her attitude about swimming, even with a different coach is just not the same.. I have no knowledge of what, if anything Safe Sport is doing with the case now. Id hoped that the coach would have been gone.

cynthia curran
Reply to  lbn001
3 months ago

Well, I read the Tera Braham book where after a race at 12 years old there was a tear in her arm. Its not certain if that was the factor that killed her career since she beat Mayo D at age 11, but it didn’t help.. She also had a tough time at Arkansas since the coaches thought she faked the injury, Now she does well in triathlons,

Alumni swimmers
3 months ago

A little off topic but for the recent swim alumni, when your coach asks you to donate to the athletic department fund ( even if it is $5)… are they doing that for your good or their own? Once you become an alum, you go from being an employee of the coach to a customer….. when are the AD’s going to really look at recent alumni surveys?

#AthleteLivesMatter
3 months ago

Although these allegations sound bad, we must remember that we need to allow a thorough investigation to conclude BEFORE anyone is condemned.

McKeever’s use of a racial epithet and profanities while disparaging rap music. Gantriis claimed that McKeever targeted freshmen Stephanie Akakabota and Reed Broaders, both African American, for regular verbal and emotional abuse. Gantriis and four other members of the 2021-22 squad also said McKeever repeatedly made comments about an African American swimmer’s appearance this past academic year. 

I would never condone the use of racial epithets and I doubt Teri would either. To accuse someone of racism is an extraordinary accusation and thus requires extraordinary evidence to back it up beyond a reasonable doubt. It actually seems to me… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by #AthleteLivesMatter
Steve Nolan
Reply to  #AthleteLivesMatter
3 months ago

This isn’t helping me figure out if this is the most subtle troll of all time, or an exquisitely broken brain.

The last sentence says she, “made comments” about a swimmer who is African American. So what kind of comments did she make? Maybe she said good things about this swimmer’s appearance.

“ya sos maybe it was like one of thems good racisms, like sayin’ a chineses is good at math! ayee i’m walkin’ here”

Last edited 3 months ago by Steve Nolan
Seriously
Reply to  #AthleteLivesMatter
3 months ago

What is your relationship to Teri?
“I would never condone the use of racial epithets and I doubt Teri would either”
Why do you doubt that? Didn’t you want a thorough neutral investigation before anyone is condemned. You write paragraph after paragraph giving Teri the benefit of the doubt.

#AthleteLivesMatter
Reply to  Seriously
3 months ago

I don’t have a relationship to Teri. I have never met her before. I simply believe in collecting facts and evidence BEFORE condemning someone. I doubt Teri uses racial epithets because the article says she “disparage[ing] rap music” which seems to me that she dislikes rap music. I am making an assumption that she probably hates rap music because most popular rap music is so overtly racist. Also, under the idea of innocent until proven guilty, we are not supposed to just believe that she is racist because someone is trying to lead us to that belief. Accusing someone of racism is a major charge. Thus it also requires major evidence! I have not seen any conclusive evidence proving anything… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by #AthleteLivesMatter
Seriously
Reply to  #AthleteLivesMatter
3 months ago

Athletes coming out and telling there story that condemns Teri is the reason for the investigation. This is an employment investigation that investigates Teri. Why don’t you contact the law firm and gather some facts into the investigation?
Assumptions are not facts or evidence…. And your assumptions show bias towards Teri. My assumption about you is that you know Teri or have some vested interest in this situation otherwise you seem to be Waisting a lot of your time!

#AthleteLivesMatter
Reply to  Seriously
3 months ago

Why should I have to contact the law firm and gather facts? That is their job, not mine. I am just saying that we should not condemn her until the facts are out and we can prove the allegations. No, I do not know Teri. I am simply someone who has a belief in human rights and it is never a waste of time to defend the concept of innocent until proven guilty.

#AthleteLivesMatter

Seriously
Reply to  #AthleteLivesMatter
3 months ago

You are constantly questioning and analyzing the accusations. With a bias towards Teri. I understand wanting a neutral investigation but you are not neutral. You make comment after comment showing bias towards Teri.
You should also assume Emily is being honest unless proven otherwise and you are certainly not. Wouldn’t a human rights activist applause and empower the athlete for speaking their truth?

Last edited 3 months ago by Seriously
#AthleteLivesMatter
Reply to  Seriously
3 months ago

America was founded on innocent until proven guilty. We must not rush to judgement. I am someone who believes in athlete right’s including former athletes. Teri used to be a college athlete at USC. She deserves to have her rights respected too. Also, there is really no such thing as “their truth” or “my truth” or “your truth”, there is just the truth. That’s what I want to find out, the actual truth.

#AthleteLivesMatter

Swimmer
Reply to  #AthleteLivesMatter
3 months ago

May I remind you (again!) that innocent until proven guilty is a *legal* concept. It does not apply to the SwimSwam comment section.

SCCOACH
Reply to  #AthleteLivesMatter
3 months ago

This is typical behavior of crazy people posting about politics on the internet. You take two passages out of a large article and pick the two passages apart while there are several more alarming examples in the article that you are ignoring.

#AthleteLivesMatter
Reply to  SCCOACH
3 months ago

What other passages would you want me to comment on? What other “alarming examples” do you want me to address?

It does sound like you might acknowledge that I am raising very valid concerns from the two passages that I commented on. So if you are, then thank you. I am just as concerned on this story as everyone else.

#AthleteLivesMatter

SCCOACH
Reply to  #AthleteLivesMatter
3 months ago

I think you are full of it but I’ll play along

Directing athletes only to people who support Teri when kids have issues with Teri was clearly the most alarming part of this specific article yet you conveniently ignore it in your continuous pro Teri posts.

#AthleteLivesMatter
Reply to  SCCOACH
3 months ago

Are you referring to when she talks about going to a “life coach” who is someone that was friends with Teri? It would be good if we knew if this life coach was a U Cal employee or not. The article does not say, so it is hard to know for sure. But it is very possible that this life coach was employed by Cal and trained to deal with athlete-specific issues. If the life coach was employed by Cal, it would kind of make sense that the life coach and Teri would probably be friends. I do not think there is a major conflict of interest there.

The article goes on to state that Emily was seeing a… Read more »

SCCOACH
Reply to  #AthleteLivesMatter
3 months ago

Also clearly talking about kids having to talk to Simon-O’Neill. It’s like you didn’t read the article. Maybe read it a few more times and and have a different better opinion

#AthleteLivesMatter
Reply to  SCCOACH
3 months ago

“Teri assured me that anything I told Jenny would not be taken seriously, because Jenny believed her and not me,” Gantriis said.

If this quote is true, it would be pretty bad for Teri. BUT, how do we know it is true? Jenny Simon-O’Neill is the godchild of Teri. As far as I know, it is not illegal to have a godchild work at your same place of employment. I would hope that Jenny would report her findings to her boss. But there is not much alleged against Jenny in this article so it is hard to comment much more about her.

#AthleteLivesMatter

SCCOACH
Reply to  #AthleteLivesMatter
3 months ago

So your argument now to all the facts is basically “how do we know what they are saying is true.” It doesn’t matter if it’s a large group of kids it’s their word vs hers, right? Are you like an intern working for Teri’s lawyer or something?

🤡

#AthleteLivesMatter
Reply to  SCCOACH
3 months ago

SCCOACH, as far as I know, this case is just their word vs. hers. We have not seen any actual hard evidence. Let’s think back to two very recent times where a large group of people claimed someone was guilty and they wanted those two people destroyed. First was Brett Kavanaugh. There were several women who made false allegations against him. In they testified in Congress and after reviewing their testimony, Congress discovered that they were not credible and that these women lied for political reasons. The second case was Kyle Rittenhouse. The media and hundreds of pundits called for him to be destroyed. An impartial jury of his peers looked at the video evidence and confirmed that Kyle was… Read more »

Sarah
Reply to  #AthleteLivesMatter
3 months ago

The life coach is actually one of Teri’s very best friends. If you went to Cal you would know this life coach. This life coach has been Teri’s life coach for decades. When Teri struggles in life, this friend/life coach as been there for her. And Teri hired her for a year or two. The life coach is no longer a part of Cal. So forcing a swimmer to go see your best friend to talk about your problem with Teri to this life coach is weird.

#AthleteLivesMatter
Reply to  Sarah
3 months ago

Sarah, interesting information. Your information was not posted in any of the SwimSwam articles so I did not have any access to it. If what you are saying is true, it does on the surface seem very strange for Teri to refer athletes to someone from outside of the university. (Probably not illegal, but it is strange, if true).

Thanks for your input. Hopefully there will be more information coming out that will be verified so we can all know what the actual facts are.

#AthleteLivesMatter

Swim Dad
Reply to  #AthleteLivesMatter
3 months ago

Your comments are the most ridiculous I’ve heard in an attempt to support Teri.

#AthleteLivesMatter
Reply to  Swim Dad
3 months ago

Do you have any evidence at this exact moment that proves Teri actually committed any of the charges that are alleged against her? If your answer is “No”, then why are you condemning this woman in the court of public opinion without any facts?

#AthleteLivesMatter

Seriously
Reply to  #AthleteLivesMatter
3 months ago

Well given that some of the people commenting are swimmers or parents of swimmers like me I would say yes I can say for a fact at least some of these chargers are true. I heard and saw them happen both with Teri and Jenny Simon O’Neil.

#AthleteLivesMatter
Reply to  Seriously
3 months ago

If you are a parent of an athlete on the team, please tell us what you know. What have you actually seen or directly heard? Remember that hearsay is generally not permissible in court.

#AthleteLivesMatter

Seriously
Reply to  #AthleteLivesMatter
3 months ago

Why would I tell you anything? It doesn’t matter what you think. I have spoken to the investigators. I understand their process and what they are looking into. I sincerely hope you apologize to the victims who have come forward when Teri is fired for breaching her contract.

swimgirl
Reply to  #AthleteLivesMatter
3 months ago

when you have now close to 40 athletes and coaches coming out….all with similar experiences over several years and more to follow, this coach should be gone so those that are still at Cal can enjoy their sport and do their best in competition. It is pretty telling the amount of folks that transferred out or are in the portal now. Cal did not support their athletes, but chose to ignore. Knowlton and Jennifer shielded Teri at the expense of others. It is heartbreaking what all are enduring and have endured. Unacceptable.

Swammerz
Reply to  #AthleteLivesMatter
3 months ago

Your comments are always written in the classic language used to cast doubt on the true victims and to make the abuser seem like the real victim. You write to falsely twist the facts into a she said/she said situation. You write like a paid social media reputation defender, like a defense attorney, like a public relations hack, like an enabler and supporter of an abuser. Readers of SwimSwam are smart, educated, and LOVE swimming, swim competition, and respect swim athletes. So we see through you and your tactics in your comments. What Cal coach Teri McKeever did to her athletes was WRONG, abnormal, and failed to follow codes of ethics and coaching guidelines. There are hundreds of eyewitnesses. The… Read more »

#AthleteLivesMatter
Reply to  Swammerz
3 months ago

What facts have I falsely twisted? You are using very charged language. So support what you wrote. What facts have I falsely twisted? I am someone who believes in law and order. I do believe in innocence until proven guilty. Yes, the readers of SwimSwam are smart, educated, and LOVE swimming….thats why I am here, I am a reader of SwimSwam. I love this sport just as much as the next SwimSwam reader. Can you send me a copy of the code of ethics and coaching guidelines that you are referring to? I haven’t read this code or guidelines so I would like to take a look. Please link that in your reply.

Your second to last sentence might… Read more »

Swammerz
Reply to  #AthleteLivesMatter
3 months ago

For facts, READ the article and the statement by the victim regarding physical abuse:

“And she would get really close to you when she screamed. Right in your face. So close. You could feel her spit in your mouth really. She was really aggressive, really intimidating. You were really scared at that moment.”At times McKeever would get physical, Gantriis said.
“She would grab me and tug really hard on my arm and scratch her nails into me,” Gantriis said.

SCCOACH
Reply to  Swammerz
3 months ago

Like I mentioned this crazy person just picks out specific parts of these articles to attack while conveniently ignoring the most damning facts. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is someone working closely with Teri.

#AthleteLivesMatter
Reply to  SCCOACH
3 months ago

There is no need for insults. I have never insulted you. I have responded to your “most damning facts” but the truth be told, there are not many provable facts yet released. It is not “crazy” to want to have an impartial investigation done to gather facts and prove what really happened. What is crazy is to condemn someone in the court of public opinion with terrible character attacks, but have no hard evidence to back it up.

#AthleteLivesMatter

#AthleteLivesMatter
Reply to  Swammerz
3 months ago

Swammerz, whatever you just quoted did not come from this article. Maybe you are quoting another article? You could have linked it at the bottom of your post. Also, if it is the post directly from the Orange County Register, not everyone can read it because it is a subscriber only article.

Let’s say that this quote is true. The part that is truly of interest is “She would grab me and tug really hard on my arm and scratch her nails into me,” Gantriis said.

My question for this athlete is, did she alert anyone immediately? Did she take photographs of her arm after practice to capture nail marks or bruises? It does sound really bad to have a… Read more »

Sad!
Reply to  #AthleteLivesMatter
3 months ago

Actually, it is now up to 40 peoples’ words against one person. How many swimmers have to be abused for you to believe there is a problem? Of course, Teri is not going to come forward and say “Yep, I did all this”. In this case, many observers have also come forward. Eyewitnesses on the pool deck. What do you want a video? This is not a criminal case. Probably will never be a criminal case. Doesn’t mean what Teri did is appropriate. There are many things not ok in this world and not a crime either. You don’t have to comit a crime to be fired. You don’t have to have a full investigation to be fired either. We’re… Read more »

Team Chlorine
Reply to  #AthleteLivesMatter
3 months ago

Maybe since you have such a vested interest you should pony up and subscribe to the OC Register to, ya know, read up on the details.

Dvlsadvocate
Reply to  Swammerz
3 months ago

Really my only quibble is the elite-tough congruence. Elite athletes, physically tough yes, often not that way mentally or they have issues that provide openings for exploitation and weakness. Physical and mental toughness are not the same thing and rarely do people have both.

Thorough
3 months ago

Frankly, that team building exercise doesn’t seem that bad. And nothing Emily describes sounds egregious from a coaching perspective. The discrimination sounds the worst. We keep hearing emotional abuse but few examples of it. Duh, of course a coach is going to be upset if you DQ a relay! We still need to hear Teri’s side and not just the snow flakes.

Seriously
Reply to  Thorough
3 months ago

Teri declined to comment to the first article. She could have and she didn’t. I have read several different girls say Teri called the a piece of …. several times a week. Is that not emotional abuse ?

Swammerz
Reply to  Thorough
3 months ago

What Emily the Cal swimmer who experienced Cal coach Teri McKeever’s intentional abuse first hand states about her experience is NOT normal coaching behavior. The abuse targeted victims and Teri also used the abuser’s psychological tactics on the rest of the team to intimidate and manipulate them so they would in-turn re-victimize their victim/teamates who were in Teri’s malicious, dangerous cross hairs. Nothing that the Cal swimmers reported on the record about Teri McKeever’s actions and behavior is normal and it must not be tolerated going forward. Sadly, due to institutional negligence, the abuse was normalized and covered up for decades but that time is over now. McKeever had the power to ruin people in real-time and in their futures… Read more »

#AthleteLivesMatter
Reply to  Thorough
3 months ago

Thorough, I agree that we need to hear Teri’s side before we condemn her. She should be allowed to call her witnesses and provide her evidence. America was built on the idea of innocent until proven guilty. No conclusive evidence has been released as of today’s date. It is sad that people jump to destroy someone without all the facts available.

#AthleteLivesMatter

suzzie2010
Reply to  #AthleteLivesMatter
3 months ago

Are you a lawyer by education?

Lulu
Reply to  #AthleteLivesMatter
3 months ago

Dude, this is a comments section. People are going to have their opinions. This isn’t the investigation. Chill out.

Kat
3 months ago

All power to Emily!! Cal really failed their athletes

SAMUEL HUNTINGTON
3 months ago

Jennifer Simon-O’Neill needs to go as well. Chief enabler.

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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