An independent investigation into allegations of misconduct against a former swim coach at the University of Utah’s, Greg Winslow, has concluded that the university should have fired him by early 2012 because the coach’s alcohol problems had left him unfit to lead the team, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
The university suspended Mr. Winslow in February as law-enforcement officials in Arizona investigated claims that he sexually abused a teenage girl while coaching there in 2007. In June, prosecutors announced that they would not seek criminal charges against him. But in the interim, some former swimmers and their parents accused Mr. Winslow of physical and psychological abuse, saying athletics-department officials had ignored their claims, according to the newspaper. The university hired outside lawyers to investigate. Mr. Winslow’s contract was not renewed, and investigators said he had declined their requests for an interview.
A report describing the investigation’s findings, released on Tuesday, found that until June 2009 Mr. Winslow “engaged in conduct that for some student athletes amounted to psychological abuse.” But it said that, with a few possible exceptions from 2007 to 2009, Mr. Winslow did not appear to have physically abused athletes. It also found no evidence that he had engaged in sexual activity with athletes, and found no evidence that he had engaged in racial discrimination.
However, it called Mr. Winslow’s use of alcohol “a persistent distraction and embarrassment” to the team that “undermined his attempts to impose discipline and the team’s morale.” The report faulted the university’s athletic director, Chris Hill, for not following up adequately on what it said was the “limited information” about the coach’s problems with alcohol that he had received from a former assistant athletic director. Though the investigators criticized Mr. Hill’s handling of the coach’s case, he will not be disciplined, the newspaper reported.
David W. Pershing, the university’s president, said in a news release that the university’s athletics department had “failed to properly support its students.” He said the institution would adopt new policies stemming from the investigators’ recommendations. Those include the appointment of an athletics ombudsman who will operate independently of that department, and the appointment of a faculty representative who will monitor student welfare.