SIU Swim & Dive Head Coach Geoff Hanson Under Investigation For Alleged Abuse

Southern Illinois University athletic director Liz Jarnigan has been fired and swim & dive head coach Geoff Hanson is under investigation after a pair of female swimmers alleged that Hanson has emotionally and sexually abused them since 2019, as first reported in The Daily Egyptian (DE), SIU’s student newspaper.

Two former members of the women’s swim & dive team, referred to as Athlete 1 and Athlete 2, spoke anonymously to DE, with Athlete 1 saying that Hanson: “Inappropriately commented on athletes’ swimsuits in front of the team, made sexual comments about team members feminine hygiene, touched an athlete’s inner thigh in front of the team, consistently threatened to remove athletes’ scholarships and went over the maximum 20 hours of training per week.”

According to DE, multiple swim & dive athletes had a meeting with SIU’s Equity and Compliance Office on Oct. 9, 2020, with Jarnigan in attendance, where they described Hanson’s conduct.

After no corrective measures were made, the parents of two team members notified SIU Chancellor Austin Lane of the abuse allegations via email on Sept. 7. Jarnigan was then fired on Sept. 9.

Lane, who has been the school’s chancellor since May 2020, released a statement on Sept. 10 thanking Jarnigan for her work at SIU and couldn’t confirm that the allegations resulted in her termination.

While the school did not comment on the current status of Hanson’s employment with the team, a university statement confirmed that the allegations are currently under investigation.

“We take all allegations seriously and will conduct a thorough investigation, following university policies and procedures,” the statement reads. “We will take action accordingly,”

Athlete 2 told DE that seven swimmers had quit at SIU due to Hanson’s abuse and that he disregarded athletes’ mental health with excessive training and repeated threats to remove scholarships.

“He frightened me to the point where I would not be able to sleep before I went to practice,” Athlete 2 said, according to DE. “I was so anxious about showing up to practice and feeling like he doesn’t even care if I’m there or not. I always felt like he didn’t even want some of us there.”

Athlete 1 added that the claims were brought to the assistant swim coaches and said that Hanson told them not to report the claim, according to DE.

“They just know that he’s going to use everything in his power to get his way and if they stand in his way, then they’re going to go down,” Athlete 1 said.

Hanson has been the SIU head swimming & diving coach since May of 2019, and has also spent time coaching Division II Colorado Mesa and Western State Colorado.

The school has begun a national search for a new athletic director, with Matt Kupec taking over the role in the interim.

The SIU swimming & diving teams compete in the Missouri Valley Conference, with the women placing second at the MVC Championships in April, while the men’s team took third at the 2021 Mid-American Conference (MAC) Championships.

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Old Retired Guy
2 months ago

Well, not the worst of the worst of stories, but not a story that indicates good coaching procedures and conduct. It will be appropriate to investigate this properly, arrive at final determinations for the situation, and discipline and/or remove personnel, accordingly.

I hope, as I hope for every team and program, that SIU’s swimming teams and programs move forward to many future successes for their student athletes. The future: It’s there, and waiting…

College
Reply to  Old Retired Guy
2 months ago

You are right, it could’ve been much worse. He could’ve kicked a water bottle at an athlete.

Scotty P
Reply to  College
2 months ago

Lord the picture they used for that coach was funny.

Bruh
Reply to  Scotty P
2 months ago

I don’t understand, pls explain

Erik
2 months ago

So.. if I am reading this right, there is accusation that a complaint lodged by an athlete to the assistant and that assistant went to the head coach first instead of compliance?? Yikes…

Anonymous
Reply to  Erik
2 months ago

It’s hard to understand what might have happened based on the article. Hoping the investigation is clear, as there’s usually different versions.

DJTrockstoYMCA
2 months ago

Mass hysteria is a fine thing – when held to moderation. Innocent until proven guilty or it used to be that way in the USA.

Bruh
Reply to  DJTrockstoYMCA
2 months ago

When is mass hysteria ever fine?

AThomas
Reply to  DJTrockstoYMCA
2 months ago

“Mass hysteria…when held to moderation” is an oxymoron. You created a word soup to try and sound what, exactly?

anon
2 months ago

Never felt better than rn to have left there.

neoptism
2 months ago

I bet daddy has already called the interim AD to put up Sam Busch as the ideal candidate.

Swimdad
Reply to  neoptism
2 months ago

Sam Bush was a great coach for my children in the Philippines

Anonymous
2 months ago

Geoff Hanson should have been banned from coaching 20 years ago. Same stuff was happening when he was a coach at Wisconsin and Arizona. He makes me sick to my stomach. Shame on everyone who has known about this and has continued to cover it up, given him jobs, and allowed him to continue coaching…especially women.

Ugh
Reply to  Anonymous
2 months ago

That was eric Hansen or maybe Hanson and maybe erik

Azswummer
Reply to  Ugh
2 months ago

Nope. Not good things circulating about both Eric and Geoff. Both at Wisconsin and then AZ together

Anonymous
Reply to  Ugh
2 months ago

Both Eric and Geoff have been in trouble at Arizona but it was Geoff who was doing inappropriate things at Wisconsin. Speaking from personal experience.

Ugh
Reply to  Anonymous
2 months ago

Now I see the relationship. Curious if his past trouble was omission or commission. Either way he’s in the wrong profession

Richard Saunders
Reply to  Anonymous
2 months ago

Lord Jesus
This is drumming up some of the worst scenarios in the sport
Eric Hansen
University of Arizona
Nick Hansen
Wisconsin
Burning in effigy!

Don Sanderlin
Reply to  Anonymous
2 months ago

My niece was recruited by SIU, glad she went elsewhere. If it is true about Hanson, he needs to made an example of. Not only fired but locked up. I’m sick to death of seeing these coaches move around like pedophile priests and not face consequences. I saw it over 30 years ago as a D1 swimmer. The arrogance and audacity is profound. They fired the A.D, meaning these complaints were lodged to her and she buried them. Pathetic! I predict the coaches will be terminated and SIU swimming will be gone.

Uncle Don’s Band
Reply to  Don Sanderlin
2 months ago

Take it down a notch Uncle Don. This is barely a scandal with strange timing and certainly not a program ending one. The AD may have been fired but not a single member of the coaching staff is even on administrative leave pending an investigation. But hey i’m sure you have the inside scoop since your niece swims there…or doesn’t so sit down.

Last edited 2 months ago by Uncle Don’s Band
Don A Sanderlin
Reply to  Uncle Don’s Band
2 months ago

I clearly said she doesn’t swim there, so you take it down a notch sir and sit down. What are you their lawyer?

Freddy Says Relax
Reply to  Don A Sanderlin
2 months ago

I’m not their lawyer, but I know enough about the program to know that you don’t know what you are talking about and have an odd attitude towards a program your niece didn’t swim for. I’m sure you also saw Ferris pass out at 31 Flavors last night? Come back when you know what is going on.

Last edited 2 months ago by Freddy Says Relax
Don Sanderlin
Reply to  Freddy Says Relax
2 months ago

You were uncle John’s band and now you r Freddy. Hmm 🤔

Don Julio 1942
Reply to  Don Sanderlin
2 months ago

That is how comments work Uncle Don.

Don Sanderlin
Reply to  Don Julio 1942
2 months ago

Hiding behind pseudonym’s?? I know exactly who this is. Met you years ago in Hawaii. This convo is over, not going to play your sophomoric games. Take care now.

Twilight Breaking Don
Reply to  Don Sanderlin
2 months ago

That’s right Uncle Don. You sold me a bad pineapple at the Aloha Factory and I’ve never gotten over it. You will rue the day you took the last seat on the sunset booze cruise.

Anonymous
Reply to  Don Sanderlin
2 months ago

The AD was fired for vastly different reasons, although the timing is not good. The AD was doing nothing they were hired to do for ANY sport. Coincidentally, the womens soccer coach was just put on admin leave – where is all of this in the DE article? IF there were any concerns about the validity of the accusations, Coach Hanson would have been put on leave as well. INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY! Not everyone is cut out for collegiate swimming. A hard coach is not an abusive coach, and it sounds like some of the accusations were taken completely out of context, or made to appear much worse than they probably were. Let’s wait for the investigation.

Snarky
Reply to  Anonymous
2 months ago

Innocent until proven guilty only applies to criminal matters. This is a school issue which is handled under Title IX standards—which is very different.

DJTrockstoYMCA
Reply to  Snarky
2 months ago

My bad well then GUILTY until proven innocent???

Don Sanderlin
Reply to  Anonymous
2 months ago

Thank you Anonymous, if you read the second line of my initial post, I said, “if it is true about Hanson”. I agree, let’s wait for the investigation. “The A.D was fired for vastly different reasons” as you say, then this was the proverbial final nail not bad timing.

Anonymous
Reply to  Anonymous
2 months ago

I can speak from personal experience, Geoff Hanson is an abuser and should never be allowed to coach again.

Sam B
2 months ago

if it had been in a movie made in the 80s, it would have a coach being a coach, and some athletes thanking him for being tough on them and some feeling bullied and with various, lasting side effects. Luckily it’s not the 80s anymore

Snarky
Reply to  Sam B
2 months ago

Yeah because women love being called fat when they are young. Go sit in the corner Sam.

SwimPop
Reply to  Snarky
2 months ago

Did you miss the last sentence where Sam B said “Luckily we don’t live in those times anymore?”

Joe
Reply to  Sam B
2 months ago

Maybe ask the student managers from his time at Arizona their opinion? Try to find one who is not family… does spousal privilege work after the fact?

Phil McKrackin
2 months ago

Unbelievable! This comes out today? The day prospect swimmers are arriving on their official recruiting trip!

Erik
Reply to  Phil McKrackin
2 months ago

What are you implying?

BearlyBreathing
Reply to  Phil McKrackin
2 months ago

Excellent timing. I’m sure the Q & A session with the coach will be a lively one.

SwimPop
Reply to  Phil McKrackin
2 months ago

Yes, had one from our club leaving yesterday for her first official visit, so excited. Talk about crushing a mood. Still better timing than this coming out the week after committing.

To Erik, the implication is as Barely said, it will be an interesting weekend.

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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