Rutgers Terminates Head Swimming Coach Petra Martin

Rutgers has fired head swimming coach Petra Martin. Several people close to the team reached out to SwimSwam with the news on Thursday, and while Rutgers hasn’t responded to a request for confirmation, they did remove her bio from the website shortly after 8PM Eastern Time on Thursday.

Diving coach Fredrick Woodruff has been named the interim head coach for the swimming & diving programs. Assistant swim coach Jon Maccol, announced in October, and Coordinator of Swimming Operations Steve Dewar remain listed on the team roster. The team also recently announced the hiring of Carmen Young as Volunteer Director of Player Development.

“Earlier today, we both agreed that it was in the best interests of the program for Petra to step away,” athletics director Patrick Hobbs told While Hobbs declined to discuss the reasons for her leaving, there have been several reports of verbal and psychological abuse of members of the team.

Rutgers has had a difficult history with coaches abusing athletes – Rutgers head men’s basketball coach Mike Rice was terminated in 2013 after video emerged of him physically and verbally abusing his athletes, which resulted in the university making new rules to prevent this kind of abuse.

“They were supposed to have a foolproof way to protect athletes after Mike Rice,” Michael Perrotti, father of former Rutgers swimmer Morgan Perrotti, said in an interview. “This is supposed to be a happy time of my daughter’s life and Rutgers has taken that away from her. I hope justice will prevail and the right thing is done because I don’t want another young woman hurt, but where does that leave my daughter?”

“I have been advised not to comment, other than to say I am terribly troubled by the accusations … because they are not true. I have always had the best interests of my athletes at heart, and I wish all of them well moving forward,” Martin said in an email to

Martin, who was born in Czech Republic, was an All-American swimmer at Maryland. Public record shows that Martin was paid $98,495 in 2016 by the university. She was hired as the program’s head coach in 2015 to replace Phil Spiniello. Prior to that, she spent 5 seasons as the head coach at Bowling Green State. During her 2+ year tenure at Rutgers, the team has produced 8 NCAA qualifiers and improved from 11th place at the Big Ten Championships the year before she arrived (2015) up to 10th in 2016 and 9th in 2017.

The team will begin competition at the home-hosted Frank Elm Invitational on Friday, where they welcome in women’s teams from Columbia, Central Connecticut State, James Madison, Liberty, LIU Brooklyn, LIU Post, Navy, Northeastern and Wagner, in addition to men’s and women’s diving teams from UConn, Massachusetts, Virginia and West Virginia.

Update: Rutgers provided a statement after the article was posted:

Earlier this week, concerns were raised with respect to the women’s swimming program.

Over the last 48 hours, the Director of Athletics reviewed these concerns with both the team and the coach.  Today, the coach and the Director of Athletics mutually agreed that it was in the best interest of the program for the coach to resign.

Previous allegations related to the coach’s conduct were raised by two members of the swim team, were referred to appropriate university personnel including President Barchi, and were investigated by the university. These investigations included interviews, independent observations of practices and analyses of the student athlete environment.  These investigations did not reveal any violation of university policy.

A separate review of the dismissal of a swim team member for repeated violations of the team rules was found to be appropriate.  That investigation was related entirely to the swimmer’s behavior in and out of the pool and was completely unrelated to any other investigation.

Fred Woodruff has been named interim coach.

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someone should ask Perrotti how his daughter’s underage drinking violations (plural) and lying to the coaching staff may have contributed to her experience in college and with this team.


Sounds like Petra and/or one of her cronies posted this…hmmmm


Cronies? Oh please. While you’re wrong on both of those assertions, ad hominem attacks don’t invalidate my point.


Cronies no…Petra then!


Again no. And ad hominem, although wrong, don’t invalidate the fact.


…and you seem to know a lot about Perrotti’s alleged situation…


Sure sounds like an insider!


Some things are common knowledge. And also part of the public record.


Common knowledge? Public record? I don’t think so!! Only someone that “knows” would know the situation…


There was nothing in the article that mentioned underage drinking! How would you know this? Very concerning…

Swim mom

It takes a big person to anonymously call out a college student. Shameful.


She’s having a great college experience so far, thanks for being so concerned. As for her experience on the team, girls who didn’t even have underage drinking violations were in distress as well. So, it doesn’t seem like the swimmer is the problem.


So underage drinking violations and lying to coaches should be permissible grounds to stay on a B1G athletic team? As for the other swimmers, maybe they’ll feel free to speak for themselves instead of having you as their mouthpiece.

Swammer If you want a perspective from swimmers without the violations you’re so concerned about. Not saying that the drinking and lying is grounds for staying on the team, but neither is verbally abusing swimmers.


This is an excellent article to get another perspective. Sounds similar to my Alma mater!…except it didn’t get to the point of video taping before they fired her. Good for that dad to hire an attorney. Wish someone on our team had done that while I was swimming.


Please mr/ms. Lets not act like underage drinking and lying to coaches doesnt happen at EVERY other school. The sport would be empty if they were kicking kids off of teams for this. Give your head a shake.


She’s having a great college experience so far, thanks for being so concerned. As for her experience on the team, girls who didn’t even have underage drinking violations were in distress. So here’s a thought, the swimmer isn’t the problem, the coach is.


Swimmyswimswim learned about logical fallacies and is just itching to find them lol


So this is Perrotti, then?


No, but this is someone who was involved with the team. Good guess though


Good to know the comments section of SwimSwam is so supportive of the current swimmers that are actively going through the situation of losing a coach so publicly and not harassing them or anything like that.


Wow – way to equate a college kid having a drink with a coach allegedly abusing their swimmers. Come on.



I doubt you have ever been on a collegiate athletic team because of your comments, which are extremely immature by the way.
I also have 0 affiliation with anyone on the Rutgers team FYI.

Who doesn’t “lie” to the coaching staff? Who doesn’t partake in “underage drinking”… ? You are making her seem like a terrible kid because of drinking and lying. That stuff shouldn’t even be affiliated with a coach mentally abusing athletes.Just look at the comments below… of only a handful of people probably affected by Petra. Obviously there are going to be some athletes who were unaffected….


As a parent of an RU swimmer we are horrified by the removal of Coach Petra. We can state that any accusations about her behavior are categorically false. Our daughter has admired Coach Petra, grown tremendously from her leadership, and is utter heartbroken by her removal. The investigation should be into why the administration is giving this talented and caring coach the axe without ANY cause.


As a Rutgers swimming alumni I am speachless. Coach Petra appeared to care so much about the team and was the only coach for 10 years that made an effort to get alumni involved again. I have to say “appeared to care about the team” because no, I did not swim for her or know what is going on currently and my interactions were as an alumni. This is too hard to believe. I wish the best for all of the swimmers as well as Petra.


It’s called favoritism. I’m sure you’ve heard of it as it isn’t uncommon. Obviously some of her swimmers are going to love her because they are treated differently than the others. Now why would Petra play favorites? Why did she like some girls more than others? From being on the pool deck at times of their practices and hearing stories from some of the girls on the team, it seemed like she prioritized the faster swimmers (which is sadly normal) but that doesn’t mean you have to be rude and discredit the other swimmers who don’t score as many points. Part of being a coach means that you put in time, effort, and some compassion to work with the low… Read more »


Actually, you’re wrong. Vera Koprivova got 5th in the 200 backstroke and Rutgers scored in the top 8 in all three diving events. I’m not taking any position on Petra, but get your facts straight.


Without the diving program, they wouldn’t of scored very high. She’s recruited very well from overseas but did not do a good job in the states.


Thank you RUSWIMMING2017! All the credits should be given to Fred Woodruff with the success of HIS Diving Team.


I think the article should clarify that the father they speak of is of former Rutgers swimmer MORGAN Perrotti. Another alum of Rutgers swimming, Allyson Perrotti ’14, has no relationship to this article or Morgan & Michael Perrotti whatsoever.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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