Western Kentucky University Suspends Swimming & Diving Program For 5 Years In Light of Hazing Allegations

Western Kentucky University announced on Tuesday that it has suspended its varsity men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs for 5 years, with head coach Bruce Marchionda, associate head coach Brian Thomas, and head diving coach Chelsea Ale all being terminated effective June 30th.

The announcement comes in the wake of a Title IX investigation into allegations by multiple former swimmers that the team partook in hazing and that the coaching staff knew about it and did nothing to intervene.

Further investigation revealed drugs in a house where the hazing was claimed to have occurred, as well as a “picture board” that included collages of highly intoxicated students in nude or partially nude positions, with at least one having a racial slur written on it.

Western Kentucky is the current training ground of one member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team, and sent one swimmer to the 2015 NCAA Championships: Fabian Schwingenshlogl, who placed 6th in the 100 breaststroke and 12th in the 200 breaststroke.

The full statement from Western Kentucky is below.

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — Effective immediately, Western Kentucky University has suspended its intercollegiate swimming and diving program for five years, the University announced today. The 50-plus team members and coaches were informed of the decision this morning by WKU President Gary Ransdell and Director of Athletics Todd Stewart.

“This is a very difficult and unfortunate decision on many levels,” Stewart said. “While many in the program have represented WKU with distinction, the overall findings of a consistent pattern of disappointing conduct is troubling and not acceptable at WKU.

“Current student-athletes in the program will certainly be allowed to transfer immediately to another institution,” he said. “If they choose to remain a student at WKU, their current scholarship amounts will be honored through their senior years provided they remain in good academic and university standing.”

Positions for Head Coach Bruce Marchionda, Associate Head Coach Brian Thomas and Head Diving Coach Chelsea Ale will be eliminated June 30.

“We have high standards for student conduct and conduct of our student organizations,” President Ransdell said. “The pervasive culture of misconduct in the swimming and diving program is intolerable. A five-year suspension is both necessary and prudent.”

The decision comes after an investigation into complaints brought by a former team member. The investigation by the Bowling Green Police Department and WKU’s Title IX Coordinator Huda Melky found evidence of violations of WKU’s Student Code of Conduct, Discrimination and Harassment Policy and Title IX Sexual Misconduct/Assault Policy.

These actions have been taken in response to the findings that related to the swimming and diving program and the coaching staff. The Office of Judicial Affairs will handle matters related to the alleged violations of the student code of conduct, in accordance with the University’s Judicial Process.

WKU officials will have no further comment.

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
8 years ago

Colin Craig’s text message:
“Hey can you get a fifth of taka and a six pack of redds for the recruits?”
Colin Craig’s letter to the police:
“Nearly every recruit was taken to parties at the party house and at least offered alcohol without regard to their age or desire.”
What a pathetic hypocrite.

8 years ago

Nope all devices were clean- nothing found in any computers, phones, Etc. please read the e tire police report before responding about it…. Nothing found- all returned to owners

8 years ago

Reading through the comments makes me wonder how many of you all have ever been to college party. I’m not talking about drinking Mountain Dew while playing Dungeons and Dragons or a few people drinking Merlot with some light jazz music in the background. I am talking about a multi-room, inside/outside, people dancing, music blaring, packed house party. I went to a few in my not-so-distant college days sober and couldn’t tell you every single thing that happened to my best friend that night, let alone keep track of say 40+ others. The reason I am bringing it up is for all of you who are just so sure every single member of those swimming teams knew exactly what what… Read more »

8 years ago

Police report link:


I was in the camp of people that thought the pusnishment was too harsh before I read it. I would think the police were able to verify many of the claims from the seized video on phones and computers. I now think maybe disbanding that whole group may not have been such a bad idea.

8 years ago

After reading the police report, these people (and I use that term loosely) who caused both physical and mental harm to the current freshman need to be brought up on charges and put in jail along with the coaches. The swimmers who saw these young men being forced to drink and assaulted are conspirators and at the very least should not have the benefit of any scholarship and should be thrown out of the school.

To the young man who came forward, words cannot express my deep sadness for what should have been a wonderful experience for you as a college athlete.

Captain Merica
Reply to  guest
8 years ago

Easy there, the police report are the accusations and the kids testimony. Two thirds of his testimony was proven false by the Title 9 investigation. When some reads Title 9 violation on sexual harassment and physical abuse what really happened was that kids sang to him when he was drinking and he got tapped in the balls.

The photo collages were proven to be from a much older year, meaning basically everyone in the photos were not currently on the swim team, they were just passed down.

Reply to  Captain Merica
8 years ago

Oh, well then… you’ve swayed me. nothing to see here. Move along now.

Reply to  Captain Merica
8 years ago

Maybe you, Captain Merica, think getting “tapped in the balls” is no big deal. Some young men having this done multiple times on multiple occasions might not agree. Four years in college doesn’t equal a pass from being brought up on charges for physical assault.

8 years ago

The program will not come back after 5 years and it is probably gone for good.

Reply to  Swimmer
8 years ago

Out of curiosity, what is the NCAA punishment if coaches know about illicit drug use (marijuana, cocaine, ecstasy, LCD, etc) on a team and don’t report it?

8 years ago

My son went through the recruiting process last year & WKU was one of the programs that he considered. Even though they presented him with the best option (financially) he was not interested due to the fact that he & other recruits were taken to a party in which there was excessive drinking. It’s great to know that there are level headed kids who have their priorities & values set at such a young age.

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of SwimSwam.com. 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, …

Read More »