According to a report from the Baltimore Sun, UMBC launched an investigation into Cradock in late 2020 after numerous swimmers made reports of misconduct.
Students told university officials that Cradock inappropriately touched male swimmers, discriminated against female members of the team and mishandled Title IX reports, according to the Baltimore Sun.
Cradock, who had been ordered by the school to have no contact with student-athletes and stay off campus amidst the investigation weeks earlier, abruptly resigned in December 2020. He then received a notice of investigation from UMBC on Dec. 24, 2020, and an amended version with two additional swimmers’ allegations on March 3, 2021, according to the Sun.
Four days after receiving the amended notice, the university was told that Cradock had died by suicide.
The investigation continued in the time since, and a final investigative report was completed on July 11 by attorneys from an outside law firm hired by UMBC. The firm found that Cradock engaged in sexual harassment and created a hostile environment during his time as coach, violating the university’s discrimination policy.
The investigation has now concluded.
The former coach allegedly touched numerous male swimmers in their genitals, investigators found. Witnesses and victims described a pattern in which Cradock would ask swimmers to touch his shoulder or take their temperature for COVID protocols and then use his other arm to assault them. According to the 105-page final report, six male swimmers that were interviewed reported being touched in the genitals or buttocks.
Several male swimmers also reported Cradock’s hugs from behind while they were wearing only their Speedos, along with attempted kisses and unwanted touching of their stomachs or chests, the report said.
Swimmers also said that Cradock would base his coaching on which swimmers would “play along and participate in the unwelcome contact.”
“If Coach Cradock was not allowed to do what he wanted to you, he wasn’t going to coach you,” one swimmer said, per an interview in the report according to The Sun.
The behavior was minimized around the team by referring to this behavior as “just Chad.”
“I felt powerless to do anything about it,” one swimmer told The Sun regarding Cradock’s harassment. “I have to live with this really dark secret that’s the undertone of my four years. I don’t think I can ever have a normal college experience.”
The Sun also says that swimmers have been interviewed by U.S. Department of Justice civil rights investigators looking into the university and if it complied with federal rules barring gender discrimination in education.
Swimmers also reportedly told investigators that Cradock was “disengaged” with the women’s team, with a lack of attention at practices, less sympathetic treatment for injuries and different of team enforcement of team rules all mentioned in interviews in the report.
Investigators also found that Cradock created a hostile environment based on sex within the team, alleging his failure to report things such as sexual misconduct, assault, stalking or relationship violence.
Swimmers also spoke of how Cradock created a “one-way funnel” where the athletes would only bring issues to him, not upper university officials. At least two swimmers allege that he discouraged them from making reports to the university.
Oana Brooks, Cradock’s attorney, declined to comment but raised concerns about the investigation continuing after Cradock’s death. The investigators deemed the allegations were “sufficiently serious” for it to continue.
It is currently unclear what UMBC is facing regarding the Justice Department’s Title IX investigation, though it’s possible a monetary settlement will be reached along with mandated improvement measures, like those instated in the recent case at San Jose State.
UMBC is also under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education relating to a sexual violence report, though it’s unclear if that relates to the swim team and Cradock.
The Justice Department investigation is expected to examine UMBC’s response to the allegations against Cradock, while swimmers are currently considering their options regarding any potential lawsuits.
Attorney Rignal Baldwin V represents five of the six swimmers named in the report.
“UMBC’s Title IX process prioritizes the school’s reputation over student safety,” Baldwin said, according to The Sun. “Until that changes, no amount of procedural reform will make a difference.”
Cradock, who was 47 at the time of his death, was the head coach of the swimming & diving team at UMBC for 19 seasons, having begun his tenure back in 2001. The team won numerous America East Conference titles during his tenure, including four consecutive men’s and four of the last six women’s at the time of his resignation.