Former UMBC Swimmers Reject Settlement Offer from DOJ Amidst Lawsuit Against University

Six former University of Maryland, Baltimore County swimmers rejected a settlement offer totaling $4.1 million made by the Justice Department amidst their ongoing lawsuits against the university.

The individuals sued the university for failing to protect student-athletes from former head swim coach Chad Cradock after multiple reports of sexual harassment and sex-based discrimination were brought forward and for failing to adequately address reports of sexual assault.

The settlement, approved by the Maryland Board of Public Works, offered reparations of $180,000 to former swimmers who reported misconduct during the university’s Title IX investigation.

This includes those Cradock sexually assaulted or who underwent dating violence that university staff did not adequately respond to when made aware, including the six athletes who filed suit against UMBC.

The settlement would also see the university pay $60,000 to those student-athletes sexually discriminated against by Cradock.

All six of the swimmers rejected the offer, with one male, identified only as K, commenting on what they are hoping to get out of the lawsuit.

“I want the answers more than the money,” K said. “I want to know why they thought what they did was right or why they thought not protecting us was what they were supposed to do.”

One of the attorneys representing the swimmers, Reginald Baldwin V, echoed their desire for accountability and said the university misunderstands their motivations for taking legal action.

“They think that they’re looking for a check, and that might be part of it, but they’re looking to hold individuals accountable,” Baldwin said. “That was part of the DOJ arrangement — that they would have to give up their opportunity to hold individuals accountable. They have decided at this time that this doesn’t work for them and we as their attorneys stand by them.”

Earlier this year, a Justice Department investigation, initially launched in November 2020, concluded that certain senior administrators and members of the athletic department at UMBC knew about the abuse but did nothing to stop it.

In April, UMBC and the Justice Department entered an agreement, scheduled to last through the 2028-2029 academic year, that requires the university to pay members of the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams who experienced sexual assault or discrimination.

The university also promised to improve its Title IX compliance office to better support student-athletes and athletic staff. This is expected to include updating Title IX policies, hiring more staff, assessing the existing Title IX compliance program and improving coordination between different offices.

It was reported that Cradock’s abuse persisted for about five years, between 2015 and 2020. Cradock committed suicide in March 2021 after resigning from his post during an investigation into his conduct. He served as the head coach of the program for 19 years.

The group of student-athletes who elected to sue the university have received significant backlash from former teammates and school officials alike, but they remain committed to their decision.

“We are all young, 20-something people going up against an institution that we thought had our best interests at heart,” one female swimmer said. “I’ve finally found my voice and I’m ready for my voice to be heard and I won’t back down. They can’t scare me anymore.”

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TeamDressel
1 month ago

It’s great to hear that they’re not taking the settlement and instead chose to take a stand against the university. Everyone who was aware of or involved in these incidents should be punished.

In the know
Reply to  TeamDressel
1 month ago

What the article does not say is that the AD, the University President (who was close with Cradock), and many others who worked in the Title IX and the general counsel’s office are no longer with UMBC. All of the people who are responsible are gone. The university has completely changed the Title IX compliance process including hiring several new people. Oversight of the office has been changed. The DOJ reviewed UMBC’s changes and required more alterations. The settlement agreement is pretty clear on these issues. I’m wondering who these swimmers believe should be held accountable at this time? People who are gone? Despite their words, these 6 swimmers (who were all whistleblowers) obviously are looking for more money.

swimapologist
Reply to  In the know
1 month ago

“hold accountable” is a euphemism for “sue personally” when you don’t want to taint future jury pools by sounding greedy.

In the know
Reply to  swimapologist
1 month ago

We shall see what they do……….the story is not over yet for these 6. The many others who have gotten their checks in the last couple of weeks are moving on with their lives.

swim parent truly in the know
Reply to  In the know
1 month ago

If you were truly in the know as I am then you wouldn’t call these swimmers/students/victims “whistleblowers.” Umbc has swept this under the rug (as they did previously!) by saying everyone involved is gone (or dead), and the DOJ settled the case. The DOJ settled with Umbc which requires them to make title IX changes, but doesn’t dictate how they settle with the swimmers. The original offer was an insult because the new school admin offered $60,000 each to 50 other rostered swimmers most of who DID NOTHING but stand by and watch the other 6 be brave enough to come forward (all while as students and 20 somethings studying at a highly academic institution while also still competing at… Read more »

In the know
Reply to  swim parent truly in the know
26 days ago

What you failed to mention is the harassment of the female swimmers by most of the male swimmers. There were incidents of genitalia being exposed, rating of female swimmers bodies, outright sexual comments. Some females were told by the males that there were too fat to swim D1. There was a highly-charged culture of sexism not just from the coach but by most of the males on the team. Many males members who were guilty even are participants in the settlement. Isn’t that messed up? A swimmer is guilty of sexism and still gets a check. The 50 that did receive a settlement provided information to the DOJ during the interview process and were identified as having been victims of… Read more »

Alumni Who Wants to Know the Whole Truth
Reply to  In the know
22 days ago

Thanks for elaborating on the details. Yes, that is truly messed up. The whole truth should and will come out. Once the UMBC administration (or state of Maryland?) truly accepts responsibility and does right by these 6 victims so they can try to move forward, this will not be resolved, and can never be forgotten.

Marc Weathersby
1 month ago

Retriever Believer

joannietheswimmer
1 month ago

Just pay them off and the AD goes free.

The Original Tim
1 month ago

Good. I wish more of these suits would reject settlements, a lot of behaviors and actions go unchecked when the only consequence is effectively a slap on the wrist and no repercussions for the parties involved.

Lifeguard
Reply to  The Original Tim
1 month ago

The AD should be let go

Skeptical
Reply to  Lifeguard
1 month ago
Swim3057
Reply to  Lifeguard
1 month ago

The AD is gone…..they are currently undergoing a search for a new AD.

A. Tyler
Reply to  Lifeguard
1 month ago

The AD when this happened is long gone. The one that followed is also gone.