University of Utah conducts outside review of gymnastics program after emotional abuse allegations
The University of Utah has engaged an outside agency to review the gymnastics program after former gymnasts and parents allege coach Tom Farden verbally and emotionally abused and physically intimidated gymnasts.
My guess is some athletes are more sensitive to ‘hard’ coaching, language, harsh feedback, etc. (which styles vary between coaches but also are different for women’s and men’s sports) OR it’s worse and more widespread and Farden will have to resign. Either way, there probably needs to be some explanation/apology (e.g. ‘Sometimes I have used motivational tactics that perhaps crossed the line and I have to do better. I apologize and will seek to mend relationships and …’).
Obviously these athletes and/or parents want to be heard and get change in tactics (or are ready to transfer or have done so already). Or they have some other bone to pick. We won’t know if this is a Craig James vendetta against Mike Leach or systemic abuse, name calling, physical altercation until more details are learned. Good to have an outside review/investigation and we’ll see what comes out. I’m sure they will interview a lot of people and cross-reference accounts. Hope they are transparent with findings.
Utah was always unspeakably blessed to have the firm,steady, REASONABLE (but not perfect) hand of first Greg, then additionally Megan Marsden guide that program for several decades. I remember hearing that Suzanne Yoculan at Georgia was a big nightmare for something similar in terms of intimidation etc.
Hell even my old fellow Methodist from FUMC SLC Jeff Graba from the 90s and early 2000s would have been a better coach in terms of working with the girls. He is (now moved away) a gentle kind guy, who really did eveyrthign he could to help the athletes. I certainly cant imagine him ever belittling or shaming anyone.
These types of things are so difficult to evaluate. You have several former gymnasts making the allegations and I am sure that for them, they are relating how they felt from their experiences. On the other hand, you have quotes from several former gymnasts saying how great their experience was.
I think he came out looking like an old school, tough coach in an era that no longer tolerates that style of coaching. Those of us who came from that old school era understand the old ways. I heard much much worse from my HS coaches and witnessed stuff that would be called abusive today. That was just par for the course. But athletes and moreso parents today just don’t accept the old ways of doing things. I’m fine with this new era. I hope Coach Farden can change his ways or I think there will be a new coach coming in.
The terms toxic and unsafe seem like they have become expanded beyond normal parameters and would now apply to all situations where someone is asking to compete at the top level.
And litigation of personal grievances or perceived slights through press release or social media when those you impune or attack can’t respond or defend themselves is something we should really question the long term implications of.