Bowman, Michael Phelps's longtime coach, sent inappropriate text messages to an Olympic swimmer in 2011.

By Jenna West
July 24, 2018

Days after Arizona State swimming coach Bob Bowman was accused of sending "graphic" text messages to an Olympic swimmer, the university released a statement calling the coach's behavior "inappropriate and unprofessional."

Arizona State first learned of the incident from a press inquiry on July 19, according to Swim Swam.

According to a July 19 report from the Orange County Register, 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Caroline Burckle received "a series of sexually graphic text messages and a voice mail on her cell phone" on the night of May 16, 2011. The text messages came from Bowman and Sean Hutchison, two U.S. national team coaches.

Burckle, who was 24 at the time of the incident, told the Register that the messages were "aggressive," and have "haunted" her for seven years. In 2011, she reported the incident and sent the messages and voicemail to USA Swimming national team assistant Jack Roach, who sent them to national team director Frank Busch.

Busch told Bowman, the longtime coach of 28-time Olympic medalist Michael Phelps, that a letter detailing the incident "would remain on file."

Three months later, Bowman was named to the 2012 Olympic team staff and later became the 2016 Olympic head coach. Arizona State hired Bowman as their head swimming coach in April 2015.

Bowman issued a statement to Swim Swam on July 23 regarding the incident.

"I regret the exercise of poor judgement in being involved one evening seven years ago with inappropriate communications. I promptly apologized to the person to whom the communications were sent and my apology was accepted. I have nothing further to say at this time."

The following day Arizona State released a statement to Swim Swam, claiming that they did not know about the text messages sent from Bowman to Burckle at the time of his hiring.

"Upon receipt of the press inquiry, ASU’s Vice President of Athletics, Ray Anderson, initiated a review of the matter including an interview with Mr. Bowman in which he confirmed his involvement with the text message exchange. Mr. Bowman also stated that he apologized to the complainant for the text message exchange in the presence of his supervisor, Mr. Busch. The review of this matter also indicates that ASU has not received any allegations of misconduct from ASU students, faculty or staff, or non-ASU affiliated individuals related to Mr. Bowman.

"In a letter to Mr. Bowman, Mr. Anderson has communicated to Mr. Bowman that the text message exchange was inappropriate and unprofessional and that no such incidents will be tolerated at ASU. Mr. Anderson has also reminded Mr. Bowman of the standards of behavior expected of him and all ASU employees."

Burckle told the Register that Bowman apologized to her for the incident but "she has never heard from Hutchison."

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