Report Finds Serious Allegations Against Late UMBC Coach Chad Cradock

Harrowing allegations against former University of Maryland – Baltimore County (UMBC) head swim coach Chad Cradock surfaced Monday following his sudden death in March 2021.

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.

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Another Swammer
2 days ago

There’s a logical fallacy happening here a lot in the comments. It’s called “affirming a disjunct” and it’s why this either/or logic is silly. Chad can be friendly and warm while doing these horrible things. Many people can have a positive experience with him while others had terrible ones. Likewise, many people can be unaware of these happenings while for others, it shaped their entire experiences. Let’s not let our emotions shape our arguments. It’s fine to argue, but don’t invalidate someone else’s experience with elementary logic 🙂

Observer
10 days ago

So just to clear things up… certain alumni commenting on this post are claiming that nothing ever happened just because it didn’t happen to them? Even though they weren’t on the team when some of this misconduct occurred?
And that they know better and are smarter than legal professionals hired by the university to investigate for over 2 years that spoke to coaching staff, former athletes, current athletes, and university employees AND the US Department of Justice?
Hm ok… that’s very odd. Seems like they can’t come to grips that the man they knew and loved could be so horrific to others despite evidence being proven.

SwimSwamFan
Reply to  Observer
9 days ago

GOT EM! Finally someone said it…

swim1234
11 days ago

No one needs to hear each other’s opinions. Family’s read this, the victims read this, have some respect

MarkB
Reply to  swim1234
10 days ago

You just gave your opinion.

swammomfl
11 days ago

Just paid the $1 to read the Baltimore Sun article… the culture and behaviors described in that article sound eerily similar to the culture etc fostered by Cradock’s mentor and predecessor when he was coaching HS before moving up to UMBC. If that continued at UMBC, Cradock learned from the best. Worst. Sorry for those kids and sorry for his family…

swammer
11 days ago

Insane to me – as a fellow America East swammer – the UMBC swimmers always seemed to love their coach. I guess you never really know what the true story is. Sad for the victims and hope they get the help they need to move forward.

Mikeh
11 days ago

Couple of observations.

1. There are a lot of degenerates out there, and it’s disconcerting how many find their way into our sport.

2. This quote makes no sense to me.

“I felt powerless to do anything about it,” one swimmer told The Sun regarding Cradock’s harassment.”

What? Why? I mean, universities have entire bureaucracies committed just to investigating things like this. They need something to do, and I would think that a few words from a swimmer or two would be all it would take. So why did the swimmer feel “powerless”?

Anonymous
Reply to  Mikeh
11 days ago

Same reason why SA victims may not report their abuser, why students may not report their teacher, why children may not report their parents. Power dynamics, the backlash you may receive when reporting, and the potential that no one will believe you. Read the whole article. There are still people to this day in this comment section who are discounting the reports that were made.

Steve
Reply to  Mikeh
11 days ago

The UMBC community was still reeling from accusations that their administration covered up sex crimes. So, even if the university did have a Title IX office, students may have had reason not to trust them. More info here: https://www.cbsnews.com/baltimore/news/more-women-come-forward-amid-umbc-baltimore-county-cover-up-allegations/

Coaches hold a great deal of power over swimmers, and the report found that the coach, “created a hostile environment.” The victims were at the losing end of a power imbalance.

no name
Reply to  Steve
10 days ago

You saw the report?

Steve
Reply to  no name
10 days ago

Pieces of the report are quoted in the Baltimore Sun article and the SwimSwam article.

old_dawg
11 days ago

There are multiple witnesses of a few specific swimmers asking alumni and teammates to lie about Cradock leading up to this lawsuit. I wonder why, if this account is true, there are only 5 current swimmers willing to speak against a coach that has been heavily involved in the lives of more than a thousand athletes over 20 years.

Disappointed Dawg
Reply to  old_dawg
11 days ago

There are only 6 swimmers who were brave enough to be named. There were dozens and dozens of teammates who corroborated stories and were interviewed even though they were not part of the 6 named.

no name
Reply to  Disappointed Dawg
11 days ago

How do you know that?

Current Swimmer
11 days ago

People do not understand that you cannot just let this go… Think about the people who are victims and who now have to live with what happened to them. Slickening

Dusker Hu
Reply to  Current Swimmer
11 days ago

Several times I’ve tried everything to make you feel alright. Is anything working? Several times I’ve died inside, and then I see you get uptight.

We’ve gotta get back, turn it around. Well, I’ve got time on my side, and you’ve got time on your side.
Now it’s only time to decide which side you’re on. We’ve tried everything in sight to make it turn out alright. Now it’s time to try to turn it around.

Several times I’ve wished that everything would slip into a void. Does it even matter now? It’s time to figure out the things we want, and things that we’ll avoid.

Well, I don’t grab for straws anymore. And you don’t sink your claws… Read more »

MarkB
Reply to  Dusker Hu
11 days ago

What in the holy Hell??

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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