Hazing Accusations in Western Kentucky Swim Program Prompts Title IX Investigation

Accusations of hazing, sexual harassment and sexual assault are being made against the Western Kentucky University (WKU) swim team, per a report just released by the WKU Herald. Investigations were made when former swim team member Collin Craig filed a formal complaint in January 2015 with the Bowling Green Police Department.

According to the Herald‘s reporting, Title IX investigators Huda Melky and Joshua Hayes discovered that “individual members of the team were pressured to drink underage, subjected to calisthenics – called the “freshman ‘f*ck around’” and endured mental abuse brought around by “taping and replaying embarrassing or compromising activity in order to subject the individual to ridicule.” The investigators also found that alcohol was offered to and accepted by high school recruits.

Additionally, the investigators determined that swim team head coach Bruce Marchionda “knew about the hazing and sexual harassment since spring 2012 based on an email he received from a former swimmer.” Further, Melky and Hayes found that subsequent discipline associated with such behaviors was “often inconsistent” and with convenient timing so as to not impact major competitions or championship meets.

The resulting Title IX investigative report offered up three recommended course of actions for university administrators:

  1. Individual students accused in the complaint should be referred to the Office of Judicial Affairs for further action
  2. Athletic Director Todd Stewart should determine the appropriate next steps regarding team leadership
  3. AD Stewart should consider the involvement of the swim team from an organizational perspective for its future

We will report additional information on this ongoing situation as it becomes available.

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Andrew

Oh come on. This kind of stuff isn’t new. It’s sad that all it takes is one kid who’s too sensitive to ruin a program. Looks like he wasn’t planning on swimming at any other college either. No way I’d want a kid like that on my team.

Tim

ya…. that is the appropriate response.

So tru

Its so true though. Hundreds of kids have all done it. Then comes one kid who’s too sensitive to ruin it all.

SMASH

Steve Schaffer

Wrong. Hazing is an unacceptable for ANY swim program, period. “That kid” would not have any complaint, and the program would not be “brought down” if there had been no hazing.

Just treat your team members like you value them as team members and make sure they all do the same for each other. Simple. This isn’t rocket science.

Coach

Yeah Andrew – it’s crap that you can”t sexually harass in the name of team bonding.

James

except he’s my team mate, and obviously, from details, its a too much for everyone, not just him

Puddle jumper

James,

You are a good friend and teammate.

swim dad

As a parent of a future D1 swimmer, we’ll take Western Kentucky off our list. I hate hearing that the Head Coach knew, and ignored it. We have met a couple dozen coaches so far, and can’t imagine that any would condone that. The drinking happens everywhere, I’m sure, but ridiculing should end in junior high. Team should have one goal.

Former Swimmer

Contrary to what you may believe, having spoken to and seen many swimming programs, hazing is indeed prevalent at many universities, big and small. I understand that the act of hazing can be very serious however many teams, fully knowing this, still do it to “team build.”

College Sprinter

Ya I hate to tell you this but every group in college hazes its new members one way or another. Some take it too far but if your worried about your kid getting his feelings hurt or being uncomfortable I suggest you just keep him at home.

Calling Steve Schaffer or Hulk!

Stating what I see as obvious, “college sprinter” seems to have waited until this story has been knocked back far enough to the point he felt he could safely leave a comment without reprisal.

The facts of this situation go beyond a “kid getting his feelings hurt” or “being uncomfortable”.

College isn’t a free pass to do what those upperclassmen did. Hazing isn’t team bonding. It’s about people having control over others.

If a coach and the upperclassmen are doing their jobs right, they are building their incoming freshman to be the best SWIMMER, COMPETITOR, TEAMMATE, they can be.

The term hazing is vague. Fetching kickboards and pulling lane lines or whatever isn’t the issue.

Pulling passed out girls underwear down and snapping photos and drawing racing terms on people’s faces is.

If you think that’s OK, we’ve nothing to discuss.

SwamminFactChecker

Too bad that a picture of a girl with her underwear down does not support the inference that a swim team member (or anyone else besides her for that matter) pulled them down. I heard no one in the history of the world has ever passed while using/attempting to use the toilet. If you believe that, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you. I am not defending the posting of the picture on the board or any racial epithets in any of the pictures. All I am saying is that capturing a situation with a camera does not mean the photographer and/or photograph owner created the situation.

WKUSWIMALUM08

As a WKU Swimming alum, I can assure you that Bruce Marchionda and Coach Powell are two of the greatest coaches I have ever swam with. I swam for 17 years and Bruce got my swimming career back on track. He always punished accordingly and was ALWAYS there for his swimmers. He never took swimmers troubles lightly and would fight for his swimmers as he treated them like his own sons and daughter. Try not to be too quick to judge on this one. Only so many people actually know the tradition and family-like culture this team represents and still carries today.

James

where was he for him?

Swim parent

I totally agree. People need to consider what their reaction would be if it was a female swimmer/college student or a female high school student/potential recruit who had reported this. Would the poster be having the same reaction if it was his or her sister this happened to?

Sexual harassment is sexual harassment…it is a bit sexist to treat makes who report it as if they just needed to “suck it up” and deal with it.

Time for some people to grow up. The kid who reported this did the right thing.

About Retta Race

Retta Race

After 16 years at a Fortune 1000 financial company, long-time swimmer Retta Race decided to change lanes and pursue her sporting passion. She currently is Coach for the Northern KY Swordfish Masters, a team she started up in December 2013, while also offering private coaching. Retta is also an MBA …

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