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Report: Penn State Investigating Swimming Coaches After Allegations Of Bullying

Penn State is investigating its swimming and diving program after three members of the women’s team said coaches bullied them and released them from the squad without cause, according to a report by PennLive.

One swimmer told PennLive she was mocked at practice by head coach Tim Murphy and assistant coach Steve Barnes and that she saw a psychologist after the refused to discuss their criticisms.

Another said she was berated by coaches in front of the team and a third said she was “blindsided” when coaches released her from the team and told her she wasn’t committed to the sport.

The three swimmers, who were not named and who PennLive said are still listed on Penn State’s online roster, each said the coaches refused to provide feedback on how they could improve.

PennLive obtained emails that showed Penn State Athletics Integrity Officer Bob Boland began investigating the allegations earlier this month. He wrote in an email to one athlete’s parents that she had “credibly raised concerns” but that no findings or conclusions have as of yet been made.

Penn State provided a statement to PennLive at said the athletic department is first and foremost by the welfare of our student-athletes and that Boland was looking into the allegations.

“Penn State Intercollegiate Athletics has well-established, confidential processes in place to follow-up on direct and indirect feedback from student-athletes and others closely connected to our programs,” the statement said. “The Athletics Integrity Officer, Bob Boland, is reviewing information shared with us as it relates to the program.”

Murphy was hired as head coach for the men’s and women’s programs in 2013 after 15 years as the head coach of Harvard’s men’s team. He was head coach for the U.S. men’s open water team at the 2012 Olympic Games. Barnes joined Murphy as an assistant at Penn State in 2013 after four years as head coach at Wabash College.

The allegations mark the third time since 2016 that coaches of Penn State women’s teams have been accused of mistreating athletes.

Former members of the women’s gymnastics team said in 2016 that then-head coach Jeff Thompson and his wife and associate head coach, Rachelle Thompson, created a hostile environment by pressuring athletes to train through injuries and lose as much weight as possible and use of bullying tactics. The entire 2016 team complained to administrators about the Thompsons.

Rachelle Thompson resigned that year and Jeff Thompson was fired the following February.

Former Penn State women’s hockey coach Josh Brandwene retired in April 2017 a year after The Daily Collegian reported former players’ allegations emotional abuse. The university said it investigated those accusations but made no public comment on any repercussions.

About the Author

Geoff Rushton (

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.


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