Content warning: This story contains graphic language of abusive nature.
Days after Teri McKeever, the swim and diving coach at University of California-Berkeley, was reportedly accused of running a “toxic” culture, the U.S. Center for SafeSport is now opening an investigation into the former Olympic coach, according to The Orange County Register and USA Today.
The Register reported Tuesday how more than a dozen swimmers have accused McKeever of “bullying” and emotional abuse of athletes in the program. Among those who came forward include current and former athletes, parents and a past member of the Golden Bears men’s swim team.
The accounts include coercing athletes to train while dealing with “chronic illnesses or eating disorders,” “verbally and emotionally” abusing them and accusing some of lying about their medical conditions despite having records. Per USA Today, Cal placed McKeever on administrative leave on Wednesday evening.
USA Swimming reportedly referred the case to SafeSport, which does have jurisdiction over the matter. However, per The Register, the sport’s national governing body was informed of bullying and verbal abuse allegations against the longtime coach at Cal in 2015, four years before she was appointed to the 2019 World Championships coaching staff.
Additionally in 2010, Cal chancellor Robert Joseph Birgeneau was reportedly aware of harassment and verbal abuse allegations against McKeever dating back to 2001, according to The Register. A total of 23 current and former Cal swimmers, seven parents, two former athletic department employees and one former member of the men’s swim team have spoken with the Southern California News Group about the allegations.