Cal placed longtime female swimming and diving head coach Teri McKeever on administrative leave following explosive allegations of verbal and emotional abuse by current and former athletes on Tuesday. The Orange County Register released a report following a South California News Group investigation that found at least six California athletes had considered suicide since 2018 due to McKeever’s alleged abusive behavior.
Around 5:00 p.m. PT Wednesday night, Cal released a statement in which the athletic director Jim Knowlton revealed that McKeever had been placed on administrative leave. The move came after Knowlton held a meeting with members of the swim and dive team where he briefed them on the decision. “As stated, these allegations go against our core values and the expectations we have for every member of our department. As the person responsible for the welfare of over 1,000 student-athletes, coaches and staff, I have no greater responsibility than to ensure that we do the right things in the right way,” Knowlton said in part. He would also go on to say that the athletic department intends to respond to “everyone” who reaches out, and is making resources available to program members who need them.
This SCNG report found nineteen current and former Golden Bears swimmers, six parents and a member of the men’s swimming and diving team who allege McKeever verbally and emotionally abused his athletes “for decades.” Allegations of abuse made by these athletes range from name-calling and name-calling swimmers (“lazy”, “worthless”, etc.) to calling out a swimmer, Danielle Carter“pathetic” after learning of an incident in which Carter contemplated suicide.
Following the release of the report on Tuesday, “a majority” of Cal swimmers walked out of practice Wednesday morning. According to the Orange County Register, which says it spoke to four people familiar with the situation, the swimmers were told they had a team meeting Wednesday morning. Apparently, when the swimmers introduced themselves, McKeever asked if they were “ready to swim” and then read a “basic” statement. After that, OCR reporter Scott Reid said a “majority” had given up the practice.
The Orange County Register reports that McKeever is under investigation by the US Center for SafeSport, according to emails they obtained.
McKeever has been head coach of the California women’s team for the past 29 seasons, and was head coach of the US Olympic team in 2012 and was a member of the US team coaching staff for 2 other Olympic Games, as well as 7 World Championships. She is considered by many to be the most accomplished coach in swimming history.
With McKeever on leave, newly hired assistant coach jesse moore will likely have to serve as the interim head coach of the women’s team. Moore was hired in mid-April and has only been on campus with the Golden Bears for a few weeks. Moore is the only other swim coach besides McKeever currently on staff for the women’s program.