Release: Greg Rhodenbaugh Cleared of Wrongdoing In Title IX Investigation

Update: After Rhodenbaugh’s release, the University of Missouri responded with a statement of their own, disputing the characterization by Rhodenbaugh’s release. You can read more about that response here.

Former University of Missouri head coach Greg Rhodenbaugh has been cleared of all wrongdoing in the school’s Title IX investigation into him, a public relations firm says.

Vox Populi Communications sent out a press release today announcing that Rhodenbaugh has been “cleared of all Title IX charges” and that the University of Missouri has officially closed the investigation.

The official closing of the investigation was issued late Wednesday, July 3rd, before the July 4th weekend,” the release says. “The notice followed Rhodenbaugh’s retention of former USA Swimming defense attorney Gregory A. Anderson, who notified the university’s General Counsel’s office that after nine months of waiting, Rhodenbaugh was filing suit for defamation of character, termination without notice or cause and other theories. Anderson alleged the never-ending investigation was intentionally interfering with negotiations between Rhodenbaugh and another premier Division 1 university to become its head coach for the 2019-2020 season.”

We’ve been trying to contact the school periodically since Rhodenbaugh was put under investigation last fall, but have not received any information on his status or the status of the investigation. The school announced last fall that Rhodenbaugh was on paid administrative leave for “team management allegations.” The Kansas City Star reported that the allegations centered around his management of female athletes and athletes’ mental health.

Mizzou promoted associate head coach Andrew Grevers to interim head coach at the time, then promoted him to permanent head coach back in May. Athletics director Jim Sterk commented on the move last month, saying that the program needed to “move on and have stability in leadership,” per the Columbia Missourian.

We’ll continue to update this story if we hear back from the University of Missouri.

Update: the school has responded with a release of its own, disputing that Rhodenbaugh was cleared of any charges. The school says it terminated Rhodenbaugh and closed the investigation without a conclusion rather than clearing him of wrongdoing. You can read more here.

 

More quotes from the Vox Populi Communications press release:

The release says that former and current Missouri swimmers and coaches wrote the University in support of Rhodenbaugh:

During the investigation, countless former and current swimmers came forward to support Rhodenbaugh. Annie Grevers who swam for Rhodenbaugh during his tenure at Arizona and is the sister-in-law of current MIZZOU head coach Andy Grevers and wife of 2016 Olympian Matt Grevers, said, “This is a man perpetuating good. He’s one of the most respected, empathetic men in college coaching.” As the investigation went on, numerous athletes were recruited to corroborate the allegations and instead refuted them. Not a single assistant coach, most of who were there on the deck during the supposed discrimination, supported the allegations. One assistant coach, Kristen Pritchet, who coached with Rhodenbaugh from 2013 through 2016 -when some of the supposedly discriminatory statements were made- said,”…[H]is [Rhodenbaugh’s] demeanor was the same with all of his athletes, regardless of their performance capabilities, gender, race or sexual orientation. Never once did I hear him yell, demean or belittle an athlete….” Nearly 300 past swimmers and coaches across the nation wrote the university in support of Rhodenbaugh.

The release also says that under Title IX rules, Rhodenbaugh was not allowed to defend himself during the investigation. Rhodenbaugh’s attorney was critical of the system, saying “there was no due process.”

The release also features some longer quotes from Rhodenbaugh:

“I was stunned. In my 34 years of coaching collegiate athletes, I think everyone I coached recognized that I deeply care about them and would do anything to help them achieve their goals and dreams – in the pool and out. My assistant coaches and I were the strongest advocates for sixty swimmers. From the sidelines, I encouraged the swimmers to stay focused on their goals and to not get sidetracked by all this.”

“I came to MIZZOU nine years ago to invest in the lives of young men and women who came here to swim and to build a top ten swimming and diving program and we did that. Along the way, I have always been conscious of the personal needs and academic goals of my student-athletes. While building a top team was incredible, that goal never outweighed my desire to help my athletes personally grow as they work through life issues. The other coaches and I know that being part of an SEC D1 swim program is challenging and transitioning from high school to college is tough. We were always conscious of the total well-being of the athletes and I am sorry that a few athletes didn’t realize the depth of care that all of the coaches had for them.”

When asked about the ordeal finally coming to an end, Rhodenbaugh stated,” As I have stated before, the men and women who came here to swim under our coaching team were part of an incredible story of building a swimming powerhouse and I am proud of every one of them. Leaving the swimmers here will be tough, but I am excited for my next coaching opportunity so that I can get back to my passion for helping young women and men achieve their dreams and aspirations at the highest level.”

40
Leave a Reply

Subscribe
Notify of

40 Comments
newest
oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Midwesterner
3 years ago

These negative comments toward a valid Title IX investigation highlight the misogyny that still exists in this country and justify the very need for Title IX.

Swim parent
Reply to  Midwesterner
3 years ago

As a lifelong advocate for women’s athletics and title IX, I respectfully disagree. I watched Rodenbaugh interact with two of my daughters as they met very different challenges. In both cases, he unequivocally demonstrated that his primary concern was for their well being. I’ve personally witnessed this and listened to other parents’ and swimmers’ affirmations. I have all the evidence I need. The man is characterized by honesty, integrity and self control. He’s endured slanderous innuendos and unsubstantiated accusations with dignity and grace. It’s unfortunate that a once respected institution is so hamstrung, but hopefully, reform can be instituted and leadership rebuild it’s reputation. Kudos to Rodenbaugh for taking the high road.

Fan of Greg
3 years ago

I went to school with Greg at SMU and know his family well. He is a wonderful leader, coach, father and husband. We need more examples like Greg in this world. I used to think highly of University of Missouri, but the way they have poorly handled this investigation colors their reputation. Greg needs to be allowed to move to a new coaching job with a school that can truly appreciate his value. University of Missouri doesn’t deserve him!

Benjamin van der Wel
Reply to  Fan of Greg
3 years ago

Hi, Fan! I was at SMU then, too, from 83-88. Greg was a senior when I was a freshman. When were you there & did you swim or dive?

Ol' Longhorn
3 years ago

Oof. They closed the investigation because they fired him. Obviously, if it was “for cause” there’s a problem. Hope he lands on his feet and is wiser the next time around.

Dawg
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
3 years ago

They didn’t fie him, they reassigned him – and it was not “For Cause”. They closed the investigation because they were sued and had to make a choice – fight, or give up. Because they had nothing on him, they chose to give up. I hope he continues his lawsuit and takes Mizzou or every dollar he can

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Dawg
3 years ago

“exercised its right in Rhodenbaugh’s contract to terminate his employment.” Sounds like being fired to me. They could have simply said that his contract was not renewed, but they chose the word “terminate.” Usually, terminating based on a provision in a contract is “for cause.” It’s also clear he didn’t resign. Maybe he didn’t resign simply to make a potential lawsuit (wrongful termination) stick, but they didn’t just reassign him, they terminated him according to the U’s press release.

CMML
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
3 years ago

If you go back to the original press release re: the naming of Grevers as head coach they clearly state Greg was reassigned, not released. They never referenced termination until they were threatened with a law suit. Perhaps there was a clause in his contract that stated he could be fired if he sued the university

Kurt W
3 years ago

Good for Greg. Hoping he lands exactly where he wants and continues his success.

Marge
3 years ago

Why would anyone work for Missouri after this?

Aquaman
Reply to  Marge
3 years ago

I don’t think Mizzou had a choice. If they don’t pursue this diligently they will face legal action from the complaintant or face action from the DOE. That’s one of the reason these things drag out so long. The schools have to spend an inordinate amount of effort to cover themselves. It’s not Mizzou- it’s every university

Miz Swims
Reply to  Aquaman
3 years ago

Why would anybody want to swim for Rhody after this. I hope the allegations come to light and the women come forward with their stories so people can stop assuming that Rhody did no wrong.

Truther
Reply to  Miz Swims
3 years ago

There’s a whole pool full of them in Columbia right now. They’d love to have their coach back on deck.

MIZ-ZOU-MESS
Reply to  Marge
3 years ago

Recent recap. 4 of 63 swimmers filed with Title 9 office. 10 months 1300 pages of transcripts cost in man hours has to be 1/2 million. This for a team that saw it’s budget cut so they could not travel to regular away meets. Football team plans strike/boycott of televised game, cheating scandal and bowl ban. The Title 9 office has become a revolving door. Third athletic director in less than six years and on and on. The files in Birmingham, AL SEC offices are filling up. Missouri is fast becoming a large brown patch in an otherwise lush green landscape that is the SEC. Maybe Tulane, Baylor, Oklahoma State, Ga. Tech or another regional college would be a better… Read more »

Admin
Reply to  MIZ-ZOU-MESS
3 years ago

Uhhh if you’re looking for a school without a mess of a Title IX office, I think maybe that Baylor is not the school you should be looking at.

Swimming Fan
Reply to  MIZ-ZOU-MESS
3 years ago

Let’s not forget the racial protests in 2015 and the debacle that ensured from those. A lot of negative marks administratively all the way around for Mizzou in the last couple of years. It seems to be in the limelight regularly for all of the wrong reasons.

NM is hot in the summer
3 years ago

Just because he was cleared doesn’t necessarily mean he behaved appropriately. As someone that was part of a D-1 team in the late nineties, a similar situation occurred. An investigation took place, and once the results came back with nothing negative against the coach, the coach was then promoted within the athletics department. However, those that swam for this individual knew what had happened, either to them or witnessing it being done. Swimmers lives were changed as a result of the coach’s actions. Other teammates protected the coach because he protected them.

We will never probably never know what happened at Missouri, but I feel bad for those swimmers that did come forward.

Truther
3 years ago

As I predicted when this first came out.

Glad to see Coach Rhody prevail in the face of overwhelming bias against him. This isn’t over, by a long shot. The Title IX office now has to answer for it’s role in dragging him through the mud with little for evidence, and taking nine months to clear him when it should have taken, oh, about 9 days.

Aquaman
3 years ago

Defamation is a no win suit unless Mizzou wants to settle for appearance sake.
This points out the impossible position Universities face with Title IX. They are blamed either way and the DOE has put the screws to them. Universities are not investigative entities nor should they be. And yes due process is denied the accused and guilty until proven innocent is the norm and it’s taint lingers even when found not responsible. Unlike many other accused at least he could afford the considerable cost of saving his reputation- most can’t afford a six figure legal bill and are expelled with no hope of further education whether guilty or not.

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 …

Read More »