Cal Implementing Additional Steps After Firing Teri McKeever


By Riley Overend on SwimSwam

Cal is implementing additional steps in the wake of an eight-month investigation that resulted in head coach Teri McKeever’s firing on Jan. 31.

A Cal spokesperson told the Southern California News Group (SCNG) that he could neither confirm nor deny whether those steps included investigating athletic director Jim Knowlton and executive associate athletic director Jennifer Simon-O’Neill.

“While we won’t confirm that an investigation is ongoing nor will we contest or challenge any reporting that suggests as much,” assistant vice chancellor Dan Mogulof said. “Here is what we can say at this point in time about matters related to the prior coaching of the swim team: In mid-February, after carefully reviewing and considering the investigative report concerning Coach McKeever, campus leadership directed that appropriate follow-on steps be taken. These steps include addressing matters that were outside of the scope of the investigation of Coach McKeever. These steps are currently being implemented.”

The $2 million investigation conducted by attorneys for Munger, Tolles & Olson (MTO) spanned nearly 500 pages, but it was still somewhat limited in its scope. MTO was not retained to look into Cal’s knowledge of McKeever’s conduct, so the entire section titled “Prior Complaints to the University” was redacted. Instead, the focus was solely on allegations of McKeever’s misconduct that violated Cal’s anti-abuse policy created in 2016.

According to Scott Reid of the OC Register, Cal officials including Knowlton, Simon-O’Neill, and former athletic director Sandy Barbour received more than 30 complaints from Cal swimmers or parents accusing McKeever of bullying dating back to 2010. McKeever is godmother to one of Simon-O’Neill’s children.

“This report comes out and it seems damning enough that they’re forced to fire her immediately but it seems just putting all the blame on Teri, blacking out significant portions of the report that seem to indicate that there’s a lot of information about the athletic department knowing,” said former Cal swimmer Abi Speers. “The framing or focus on this one bad apple without really interrogating or being open about what the administration might have known and why this was allowed to continue is disappointing

“From my experience as an athlete on the team Teri’s behavior and coaching methods felt like an open secret,” Speers added.

During her 29 years at Cal, McKeever won four NCAA titles and served as the only female coach of a U.S. Olympic team. Dozens of her former swimmers claim that her coaching methods involved emotional abuse, with nine of them telling SCNG that they made plans to kill themselves or obsessed about suicide for weeks or months because of what they describe as McKeever’s bullying.

MTO interviewed 147 people and examined 1,700 documents during its investigation, which concluded that McKeever’s behavior “toward some, but not all, student-athletes in some instances was abuse and violated University policy.” It also found “by a preponderance of the evidence that Coach McKeever discriminated against certain student-athletes, in certain instances, on the basis of race, national origin and disability.”

SwimSwam: Cal Implementing Additional Steps After Firing Teri McKeever

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