A swimmer suspended for much of the high school season was granted a waiver to compete at an Indiana high school sectional meet, prompting protests from swimmers and parents.
The Indy Star reported on the controversy last week. The Fishers Police Department said in that story that it had an open harrassment case involving a Fishers High School student, and that the student was set to compete at a sectional swim meet the following weekend. The story identifies the student as a boy who is “one of the state’s top high school swimmers.”
The local NBC affiliate WTHR published a full-length piece earlier this week, quoting several members of the Fishers High School girls swim team. The girls say that the male swimmer in question sent disturbing texts to his female teammates. “He would start saying these really abusive things about girls,” one swimmer says in the story. “He would also say violent things he would do to other people that wasn’t sexual — violent things about the school.”
After several months of the messages, the girls say they went to a teacher who then reported the texts to school authorities. The result was a Title IX investigation, during which the male swimmer was not allowed to participate with the swim team, and had to complete his schoolwork from home. WTHR reports that the school district, Hamilton Southeastern Schools, sent letters to the families of some female swimmers, announcing that the district had found “substantiated cases of harrassment” and that the male swimmer “would not be allowed to swim or compete with the Fishers High School swim team.”
The boy’s attorney, though, says the school prematurely sent the letters to parents because the Title IX appeal process hadn’t yet concluded. He says that the text messages were “out of order and out of context,” per WTHR, noting that the male swimmer has a clean disciplinary record and a GPA above 4.0. The attorney says the boy is being “villainized” and that his academic and athletic career (the attorney says the swimmer has an offer to swim at a major university) “hang in the balance.”
Multiple news outlets now report that the swimmer was allowed to swim at his sectional meet, after the Indiana girls high school season had already ended. The formerly-suspended swimmer had missed enough time that he technically didn’t meet Indiana’s participation requirements and wouldn’t have been eligible for the post-season. But WTHR reports that the Fishers High School principal and athletic director personally called the Indiana High School Athletic Association to request a waiver for the male swimmer, allowing him to compete at sections and state.
The IHSAA says that “student and fan behavior in every aspect is the direct responsibility of the principal,” and that because the principal and athletic director asked for the waiver, IHSAA bylaws call for the state high school league to grant the waiver. The school wrote a letter to parents, explaining that the male swimmer would be allowed to swim at the boys sectional meet because he wouldn’t be competing with the girls team.
WTHR reports that more than 50 people showed up to the sectional meet on Saturday to protest the swimmer’s inclusion.