Hinchey: If Bowman Incident Happened Today, No Olympic Coaching Role

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 Phelpsis accused of sending an inappropriate text message to a former swimmer in May of 2011. Caroline Burckle publicly accused Bowman this week alongside Sean Hutchisonthe 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.”

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1 year ago

Well this didn’t age well…

4 years ago

Maybe its just me but the guy doesn’t seem like a he’s zero tolerance type of guy….he seems contradictory and not very straight forward on this issue. Seems like he’s in over his head.

4 years ago

If Phelps was still swimming he would keep Bowman off the Olympic coaching staff? Easy to say. Empty tough talk doesn’t help the situation.

4 years ago

Speaking as a swimmer from the 80’s when male coaches got away with murder and we were all conditioned to talk about the female athletes being the ones with questionable morality (yikes), I’m really glad coaches are now having to face their improper behavior. Being outed and publicly facing their misdeeds is well deserved, IMO. Having said that – some misdeeds are leaps and bounds worse than others. I hate to see drunken texts to an adult swimmer put on the same level as coaches in their mid 30’s sleeping with their 17 year old swimmers. At least Bowman has accepted responsibility and apologized.

Reply to  gobears
4 years ago

Being a swimmer from the 70’s and what you noted above is true. YIKES! I do think USA swimming could have been more prepared to discuss the issue and also what steps they have taken and are taking in USA swimming to protect against swimmers and former swimmers from this type of behavior. For me I think at the very least USA swimming should have issued some type of small fine or suspension on Bowman, maybe a 6 month ban from any National team coaching and also a follow up of classes or counseling on Safe Sport. While these may just be window dressing it does send a message to other coaches, no matter what level they are at in… Read more »

4 years ago

Agreed. Maybe assign Bowman to do some kind of USAS continuing coaches education PSA addressing proper behavior?

4 years ago

You talk a good game Tim. Bluster how about any action.

SumTing Wong
4 years ago

Apart from the clearly unhealthy aspects of elite swimming , NBAC has some noteworthy impact on its ts females .Katie Hoff Alison Schmitt ,Sierra Runge G ..Ryan . A strange undercurrent manifesting itself in chronic depression , complete & public physical meltdown ( twice) gender denial , & a rather troubled student athlete throwing away scholarships & exiting 2 NCAA programs .

I thought it was the serial altitude camps which broke the girls body / mind connection but maybe there is more . Note also MP up & went .BTW where to? Although he was always thereabouts designer of course & everything built around him .

Itoh it might just be late night sexting but it being with… Read more »

4 years ago

It would appear he contradicts himself in almost every aspect of his comments. First, he seems to indicate age, gender, status (athlete vs non-athlete), etc shouldn’t matter and then he circles back around and attempts to minimize the behavior using age and status as justification. Second, he states “I don’t think that’s how I would have handled the situation, quite frankly” and then goes on to delegate the decision-making process to someone that was very likely a key player in the initial handling of it.

Throwing around phrases like “zero tolerance,” as he did at the press conference, and following it up with zero action and zero consequences, contradicting himself repeatedly, and worst of all passing the buck down the… Read more »

4 years ago

I’m not denouncing the story, but it’s important to remeber these are allegations. I’m starting to wonder if we need a deeper investigation of these coachs. If this story is true, Bowman will be the most prominent of sadly a way to high number of coachs who have sexually mistreated their young athletes. Something needs to be done to protect our youth, the athlete coach bond, while it can be an amazing thing, is way to easily exploited by predators, and clearly we are not doing enough to save our children from this threat.

Reply to  IM FAN
4 years ago

IM Fan – these are not allegations. The letter of reprimand has been presented to the media, Bowman has acknowledged their existence in a statement, as has Arizona State. USA Swimming has seen the exact texts. In this case, the existence of these texts, and the broad implication of them, are not allegations.

Reply to  Braden Keith
4 years ago

What exactly did he say? I am not condoning his behavior but it would be helpful to know what he said.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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