In a shocking move, former Carmel (Ind.) high school coach Ray Lawrence has been added to USA Swimming’s list of “permanently suspended or ineligible individuals”. Lawrence is a member of the Indiana Swimming & Diving Hall of Fame, and by most accords amongst the best high school coaches of all time (though he always considered himself an age-group coach at heart). He is the highest-profile coach to turn up on USA Swimming’s banned list since former USA Swimming National Team Directory Everett Uchiyama.
USA Swimming has not made any public statements as to why Lawrence was added to the list, though they did state that the violation occured prior to the publishing of their official Code of Conduct, meaning it happened prior to 1999. The full list of violations can be found in the Code of Conduct. Violations include things like sexual abuse (or any other crime) involving a minor, a sexual relationship with an athlete, any number of drug or alcohol violations (especially those in the presence of athletes), physically abusing athletes, illegally recruiting athletes, or discrimination against certain athletes.
What’s even more shocking about this accusation is that USA Swimming apparently has information that Lawrence’s current employer, the CIESC that is in charge of the Indiana Online Academy, has no idea where the accusations are coming from, according to a statement released to Indianapolis’ News6. That’s a bit of a scary issue, because even if USA Swimming is working to clean up the sport and improve communication, it would be odd that a banned coach’s current employer would learn about it from a phone call by a reporter.
(Update: Further correspondence with parties who have knowledge of the issue has indicated that USA-Swimming has, in fact, done a more-than-satisfactory job of handling this situation, which was only brought to their attention recently. Though there’s still a lot of work to be done, it’s all about giving credit where it’s due. It sounds like USA-Swimming is due some “kudos” for their handling of this case. Look for more to come to light in the next few months, when its appropriate.)
Lawrence won a total of 11 Indiana High School titles from 1979 to 1995. That total does not include the 1995 Boys State Championship that Carmel High School was forced to vacate due to the presence of an ineligible transfer student. The student was granted permission to swim by a lower court, after claiming that Indiana transfer rules violated his constitutional rights, before a higher court overturned the decision: allowing the IHSAA to force a forfeit of the season. The issues do not appear to be related.
Lawrence is not the first coach connected with the Carmel Swim Club to come under much fire in the past year. Former Carmel coach Ken Stopkotte was arrested in November on charges that he defrauded a different Indiana High School out of $17,000 in pool rental fees while in the position of head coach there. Stopkotte’s name, too, is likely to show up on this list in the near future.
The USA Swimming list has now ballooned to 56 from the original 46 when USA Swimming first released the list in May of 2010.
The full list, with references to infractions, can be found on the official USA Swimming website.