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U.S. Olympic team head coach Teri McKeever speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials, Sunday, June 24, 2012, in Omaha, Neb. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
U.S. Olympic team head coach Teri McKeever speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials, Sunday, June 24, 2012, in Omaha, Neb. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Scott Reid. Sports. USC/ UCLA Reporter.

// MORE INFORMATION: Associate Mug Shot taken September 9, 2010 : by Jebb Harris, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

The U.S. Center for SafeSport has completed the initial phase of its investigation into allegations of bullying and other misconduct against Cal women’s swimming and former U.S. Olympic head coach Teri McKeever although a report on the probe’s findings is likely still months away, the Southern California ɫ̳ Group has learned.

U.S. Center for SafeSport investigators interviewed approximately 60 current and former swimmers, parents and others familiar with the Cal program during the more than four-month long probe, according to six people familiar with the investigation.

SafeSport has not interviewed McKeever. An interview with her is expected to be scheduled before the bulk of the report is written, a Center spokesman said.

The Center’s final report on the case will likely run more than a thousand pages in length, according to a person familiar with the case. Three people interviewed by the Center said they were told by investigators the report would run at least 500 pages.

“We have neither seen nor received any information about the investigation you reference,” Cal assistant vice chancellor Dan Mogulof said in an email to SCNG. “And so, lacking any information about its conclusions, we are unable to comment. … I can confirm that the campus has not directed or advised anyone not to speak with SafeSport’s investigators.”

The Center also requested records from the university. A SafeSport spokesman declined to comment when asked if the university had provided the requested documents.

“This is the first we have heard of any document request from SafeSport. In fact, a campus attorney is contacting the organization to ask which office their request was sent to, and which records were sought so that we can ensure cooperation,” Mogulof said. “And, apropos of your inquiry yesterday, the campus also requested a copy of SafeSport’s report, but we were told that as per their policy and protocol it cannot be shared with the university. Given our concern about student safety we hope to have access to the report at some point in the future.”

SafeSport reports are confidential.

A law firm, Munger, Tolles and Olson, hired by the university is also investigating allegations that McKeever bullied, and verbally, emotionally and physically abused dozens of Golden Bears swimmers throughout most of her 29-year career in Berkeley, her attorney has confirmed.

McKeever has also been the subject of an investigation by the university’s Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination into allegations that McKeever’s bullying constituted racial discrimination or discrimination based on swimmers’ sexual orientation and national origin, according to confidential university documents obtained by SCNG and multiple interviews.

The Munger, Tolles, and Olson and OPHD investigations continue to be ongoing according to Mogulof.

“Teri was not interviewed nor even asked to be interviewed by SafeSport,” said Thomas Newkirk, McKeever’s attorney. “This indicates the complaints are without a level of merit to even warrant her being questioned as SafeSport does not issue negative findings without bothering to interview the person accused.  This is not surprising as the claims about Teri are not close to physical and sexual abuse that is the focus of SafeSport.”

Actually, according to the U.S. Center for SafeSport “emotional, physical, and sexual misconduct in sport, including bullying, hazing, and harassment” are prohibited and fall within the Center’s jurisdiction to investigate, make rulings and issue sanctions including suspensions and lifetime bans.

The U.S. Center for SafeSport codes defines bullying behavior as “Repeated or severe behavior(s) that are (a) aggressive (b) directed at a Minor, and (c) intended or likely to hurt, control, or diminish the Minor emotionally, physically or sexually. Bullying-like behaviors directed at adults are addressed under other forms of misconduct, such as Hazing orHarassment. Examples of bullying behavior may include, without limitation, repeated or severe” and “verbal abuse” including “Ridiculing, taunting, name-calling or intimidating or threatening to cause someone harm.”

The U.S. Center for SafeSport and Munger, Tolles and Olson investigations were prompted by that McKeever, the only woman to serve as U.S. Olympic swim team head coach, has bullied athletes on an almost daily basis for parts of four decades, and that Cal athletic director Jim Knowlton and Jennifer Simon-O’Neill, senior executive associate athletic director and the coach’s longtime close friend, and other Berkeley officials ignored or dismissed multiple allegations of the coach’s misconduct. .

More than 40 current or former Cal swimmers and divers, 17 parents, a former member of the Golden Bears’ men’s swimming and diving squad, two former coaches, a former Cal administrator and two former Cal athletic department employees have told SCNG to date that McKeever routinely bullied swimmers, often in deeply personal terms, or used embarrassing or traumatic experiences from their past against them, used racial epithets, body-shamed and pressured athletes to compete or train while injured or dealing with chronic illnesses or eating disorders, even accusing some women of lying about their conditions despite being provided medical records by them.

In addition to the bullying allegations, the U.S. Center for SafeSport is also investigating whether McKeever abused swimmers through hypoxic training.

The U.S. Center for SateSport investigation was initiated seven years after USA Swimming, the sport’s national governing body, during the 2013-14 season.

Katherine Starr, a prominent athlete rights and safety advocate and former Olympic swimmer, said she reported allegations to Susan Woessner, USA Swimming’s director of SafeSport, in 2015. Starr made the report to Woessner and USA Swimming after interviewing Abi Speers and a foreign swimmer in 2015. Both swimmers said they were specifically targeted by McKeever for regular bullying.

Woessner and USA Swimming took no action, Starr said. USA Swimming appointed McKeever to the 2019 World Championships coaching staff. at USA Swimming in February 2018 amid allegations she had a conflict of interest when she was involved with a sexual abuse investigation of U.S. national team coach Sean Hutchison because of an alleged “intimately personal relationship” with the coach, according to USA Swimming documents.

USA Swimming CEO Tim Hinchey did not respond to a request for comment.


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