USA Swimming CEO Tim Hinchey fielded questions about the inappropriate text messages sent by coach Bob Bowman in 2011, saying that if a similar incident happened under Hinchey’s leadership, the new CEO wouldn’t appoint the coach to an Olympic coaching role.
“If this happened today with one of our coaches, I can’t see appointing him to an Olympic team,” Hinchey said in a press conference today.
Bowman, currently the coach of Arizona State University and well-known for coaching multiple Olympians including Michael Phelps, is accused of sending an inappropriate text message to a former swimmer in May of 2011. Caroline Burckle publicly accused Bowman this week alongside Sean Hutchison, the former national-level swim coach accused of grooming and sexually abusing swimmer Ariana Kukors when he was her coach.
Bowman released a brief statement admitting to “inappropriate communications,” and saying he apologized for the communications after the fact and regrets “the exercise of poor judgement.” Bowman and USA Swimming have come under criticism after the accusations went public, in particular because Bowman was named head coach of the U.S. Olympic team in 2016, five years after the inappropriate communication.
Hinchey was grilled on the matter in a press conference today. He’s only been the CEO of USA Swimming for about a year, and made clear in his press conference that he would have handled the situation differently at the time, though he expressed no reservations about Bowman’s current ability to work with athletes.
“Certainly from a criticism perspective, I don’t think that’s how I would have handled the situation, quite frankly,” Hinchey said. “I think regardless of age, gender, athlete, non-athlete, no one deserves to have communication like that.
When asked how he would have handled a similar incident with an official working for his former employer, Major League Soccer’s Colorado Rapids, Hinchey suggested the conduct wouldn’t be tolerated. “I’d like to think that that’s someone that wouldn’t be working with the Rapids,” he said.
On the other hand, Hinchey said he didn’t have any reservations about Bowman continuing to coach athlete members of USA Swimming. When asked specifically about national team coaching roles, he was non-committal, deferring to National Team Managing Director Lindsay Mintenko.
“This instance, although we don’t condone it, we don’t like it… the circumstances from what I understand were that it was not [communication to] a swimmer at the time, it was [to] an adult,” Hinchey said. “I don’t like it, but from a coaching perspective, I think his resume speaks for itself.
“As far as speculating about the future, I’ll leave that with Lindsay Mintenko for now. Bob certainly doesn’t feel good about this, I can tell by his reaction. We make mistakes and you can’t turn back the clock.”