What Does Cal’s Soccer Coach Have to Do With Teri McKeever Investigation?

by Riley Overend 59

July 05th, 2022 College, News, Pac-12

Cal women’s swim coach Teri McKeever and her attorney, Thomas Newkirk, have yet to deny allegations of verbal, emotional, and physical abuse from nearly 60 people. Instead, after McKeever was placed on administrative leave on May 25, they have taken the position that she is the victim of gender bias, claiming her methods are “normal coaching behavior” for her male counterparts.

Abuse shouldn’t be normal, of course, but it may have unfortunately been normalized by Cal’s athletic department. In November of 2020, a KTVU investigation revealed that nearly two dozen current and former women’s soccer players accused women’s soccer head coach Neil McGuire of systemic bullying similar to McKeever. 

“I’m mentally tough and this was the first time I had been broken down,” said Hannah Koski, who went to Cal on a scholarship in 2013 but ultimately quit the team due to what she described as emotional abuse. “I was so scared of this man.”

Former Cal goalie Olivia Sekany says McGuire fat-shamed her often, leading to her over-dieting and over-training in response. 

“I was just trying to fix whatever was wrong with me so he would stop coming after me so I could play soccer, because that’s all I wanted to do,” Sekany said.

Several players described an incident they referred to as “Raingate,” when McGuire punished his team for holding a workout in the rain after he canceled practice. Players say McGuire made them run until many required medical attention from the training staff.

“I got super light-headed,” said Caroline Clark, a midfielder who arrived on campus in 2017. “I was laying on the training table with my feet up to help with the situation. And it was first me, then one more girl came down to put her feet up, then one more girl came down to put her feet up, and by the end of it there was just a row of girls about to pass out. Because he was overworking us so hard and no one understood why.”

Clark ended up quitting the team and losing her scholarship.

“What it boiled down to was: Any love I had of soccer, [McGuire] completely took away and I wasn’t happy anymore,” Clark said. 

Multiple players said they needed therapy and medication in order to manage the stress and anxiety caused by McGuire. 

“It wasn’t an issue of a yeller — it was emotional and mental abuse because he treated some girls so poorly they started becoming depressed and mentally not stable,” said Renee Thomas, who sued the school for violating Title IX after she was cut in 2019 only to have her complaint dismissed less than a year later.

Like members of the women’s swim team, women’s soccer players also had their complaints ignored by athletic department administrators. 

“We started talking and the two [administrators] looked at us like we had five heads,” Sekany said. “They said they had never heard anything bad about Neil McGuire. When we used terms like ‘emotional abuse,’ they were condescending in a way, as if we didn’t understand the implications of using terminology like that — which we did. We discussed it at length and decided it was absolutely an appropriate term to describe what he’d been doing to us.”

Years earlier, Koski said her formal complaint was also ignored by administrators. 

Cal told KTVU that it was conducting a review of the allegations against McGuire. But nothing has been released publicly in the nearly two years since, and he has continued to coach, uninterrupted, during that time. The university’s communications director told KTVU in 2020 that “this year’s recruiting class for our women’s soccer team was ranked No. 1 in the country, a sure sign of the program’s quality and excellent reputation.”

McGuire’s squad has actually underperformed under his leadership as of late. Over the past two seasons, Cal has gone just 13-14-4. During McGuire’s 15-year tenure, Cal has been to 12 NCAA Tournaments, but only one since 2018. The farthest they’ve been in the NCAA tournament under McGuire is the second round, and they haven’t made it that far since 2014. His contract was renewed this year.

Newkirk will likely argue that Cal’s response to allegations against McKeever, a four-time national champion, demonstrates a double standard compared to the school’s inaction toward McGuire. Newkirk is the same attorney who represented swim coaches Janelle Atkinson (Stony Brook) and Petra Martin (Rutgers) in gender discrimination lawsuits. Atkinson received a $385,000 settlement, while Martin received a $725,000 settlement.

McKeever was awarded with a two-year contract extension in January 2020, well after her allegedly abusive behavior had been reported to administrators. The contract expires on April 30, 2024, and has an annual base salary of $242,000 along with $55,000 in potential bonuses.

On May 27, Cal hired the law firm of Munger, Tolles & Olson to conduct a formal investigation into allegations against McKeever that could take up to six months. She is also being investigated by the U.S. Center for SafeSport, according to the OC Register.

In the last six years, six Cal sports programs have been the subject of serious allegations — men’s basketball, rowing, diving and football along with women’s soccer and women’s swimming. In 2016, an assistant basketball coach was fired for propositioning a reporter for sex, Cal rowing coach Mike Teti was accused by a former female team member of failing to report when she told him a male team member had sexually assaulted her, and the university fined a diving coach for sexual harassing a coworker. In 2019, a sports medicine intern said she was sexually assaulted by a football coach. 

Cal seems to have serious problems within its athletic department, and those problems don’t stop at McKeever.

Update: Cal’s interim associate athletics director responded to SwimSwam’s question about whether the university’s review of allegations against McGuire had ever been completed. 

“As you may already know, providing a specific response to your question would require that we violate policies and laws protecting employee privacy and/or employee due process. Providing the specific information you request would confirm the existence of a specific investigation or inquiry. We can’t do that. The fact that we cannot confirm the existence of an inquiry cannot be construed to mean that there was no inquiry. 

“Without commenting on any specific complaint made with regard to any coach or “colleague,” the current leadership of Cal Athletics does not tolerate any employee actions or behavior that violate policy. The fact that we cannot comment on past or present personnel matters does not mean that complains are ignored. When the current leadership of Cal Athletics is made aware of allegations that policies have been violated, or of complaints about employee behavior, they respond as a department, when appropriate, or refer the matter to appropriate campus investigative offices, when required. Complains that don’t allege policy violations are evaluated and management action may be taken based upon those complains.”

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Boganville
1 month ago

Daimo MIA?

daimo
Reply to  Boganville
1 month ago

‘sup?

John Hueth
1 month ago

Airing out all of the dirty laundry.

Time For Barta To Go
1 month ago

Cal’s response is very reassuring.

Not.

Piss Pooler
Reply to  Time For Barta To Go
1 month ago

Sick burn.

UCswim
Reply to  Time For Barta To Go
1 month ago

As a Cal alum, it is very disappointing.

Walter Sobchak
1 month ago

Watch this 2-minute clip from the 1992 film “A League of Their Own.” Remember Tom Hanks line: “There’s no crying in baseball”? McKeever must’ve watched this and taken this philosophy straight to heart.

https://twitter.com/tsting18/status/1542861838404157440?s=10&t=wTKcC6sSwX5BweYWMLGmNQ

swammers
1 month ago

Cal coach Teri McKeever apparently now wants to fight hard to normalize dangerous, reckless, abusive, and substandard coaching. Ms. McKeever had uncontrolled and abnormal anger. It is reported that she often took her anger out on the world class athletes she was supposed to be responsible for. In anger, she would suddenly grab and jerk the arm of an athlete. This occurred on the pool deck in front on witnesses. This is physical abuse and it is wrong. Swimmers need their arms and shoulders to be healthy for peak performance, not injured intentionally or in anger by the coach. In summary, this is not normal. It is wrong. It is not “normal coaching behavior.” Abusive coaching only gets worse when… Read more »

college athlete
Reply to  swammers
1 month ago

Too many college coaches use their athletes as “punching bags” out of anger. It needs to stop before we lose any more athletes due to abusive, reckless coaching. Just because many coaches use this type of behavior doesn’t mean that it’s right and should be used. No athlete should ever face abuse to do the sport that they love.

NB1
1 month ago

how is saying that an investigation is happening or has been completed againts protecting employee privacy?

daimo
Reply to  NB1
1 month ago

Because in some places there is still such a thing as due process.

Justhereforfun
1 month ago

If anyone is interested, this logical fallacy is known as circular reasoning, where each part of the argument is offered as a justification for the other part. In the past, actual lawyers have used this fallacy for ridiculous justifications such as discriminatory college admissions (eg. “We should be allowed to ban women in our institution because single sex education is our goal”)

In this case, McKeever’s lawyer argued that her actions are justifiable because it is “normal”, while these actions are only considered “normal” precisely because of coaches like McKeever. It doesn’t really answer the question of WHY the actions are justified.

chickenlamp
1 month ago

What a meaningless statement from the Cal associate AD.

JAFO
Reply to  chickenlamp
1 month ago

Seriously. Why even bother respond? It reads like trying to talking through marbles in your mouth.

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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