The University of Tennessee’s 16 head coaches, including swimming & diving coach Matt Kredich, came together for a joint press conference about campus culture on the heels of a federal lawsuit filed against the school on allegations of a “hostile sexual environment.”
The lawsuit was filed by six unidentified women, according to ESPN, and alleges that the University of Tennessee’s policies created a culture that fostered sexual assault and also that the school “interfered with the disciplinary process to favor male athletes.”
The coaches themselves said that they, not the administration, called the joint press conference to defend the campus culture, campus newspaper The Daily Beacon reports. The press conference was widely reported on in sports media, though some outlets, like ESPNW, panned the event as “tone deaf.”
The coaches didn’t directly address the lawsuit, but did express their support for the alleged victims while still defending the overall culture of the campus.
“Everything is about the alleged victims, and we take that very, very seriously,” said head football coach Butch Jones in the ESPN piece. “We feel for them. We hurt for them. It’s not who we are. We have great players in our football program. We have great individuals in this entire athletic department. We have a very good culture in place. That’s why I said we’re going to defend our culture. We have good people. We’re embarrassed by it. We’re upset by it. It’s not who we are.”
ESPNW reports on some of the specific comments from each of the head coaches, including Kredich’s statement:
“In swimming and diving, we’ve got people who are scantily clothed training next to each other all the time. That’s the culture they grow up in and their character, and their bodies are essentially — there’s no covering up anything. There’s a tremendous culture of honesty in swimming and diving.“— Matt Kredich, men’s and women’s swimming and diving coach
You can find Kredich’s quote, as well as quotes from several other head coaches, in the ESPNW piece linked above.