Cal women's swimming coach Teri McKeever, who was fired Tuesday, spent three decades at the school. Photo by BrokenSphere/Wikimedia Commons
Feb. 1 (UPI) -- The University of California fired Teri McKeever after an independent law firm investigation found numerous instances of discrimination and verbal abuse from the longtime women's swimming coach, the school announced.
Cal athletic director Jim Knowlton announced the dismissal Tuesday night.
"In a letter to the team and Cal athletic department staff, Knowlton wrote that 'after carefully reviewing an extensive investigative report that was recently completed by an independent law firm, I strongly believe this is in the best interests of our student-athletes, our swimming program and Cal Athletics as a whole,'" Cal said in a news release.
"Knowlton also wrote that 'the report details numerous violations of university policies that prohibit race, national origin and disability discrimination. The report also details verbally abusive conduct that is antithetical to our most important values.'"
Cal said Dave Durden will continue as the Golden Bears' acting director of swimming and diving. The school also said it will move as "quickly as possible" to decide on permanent leadership of the program.
"I deny and unequivocally refute all conclusions that I abused or bullied any athlete and deny any suggestion I discriminated against any athlete on the basis of race, disability or sexual orientation," McKeever said in a statement. "There were and should be consequences for violating team rules, not showing up for scheduled appointments, misusing resources, not giving an honest effort and behavior that was not congruent with their individual or our team goals.
"But those consequences were not applied because of who someone was, only for what they did or didn't do that hurt the team and the culture we were working hard to sustain. I am terribly disappointed and saddened at the way in which the investigation process was conducted. I have been an open book in my coaching methods and administration knows and have fully approved of how I coach."
Several former Cal swimmers detailed abuse and discrimination allegations against McKeever in a report published in May in the Orange County Register. The Southern California News Group also conducted an investigation, which found that six Cal women's swimmers since 2018 considered dying by suicide because of McKeever's alleged "bullying."
The San Jose Mercury News reported that the law firm's independent investigation included interviews with nearly 150 people and reviewing more than 1,700 documents. The Mercury News also reported that 44 current or former Golden Bears swimmers and nearly two dozen parents made accusations against McKeever.
McKeever led the Golden Bears to four NCAA team titles over three decades as coach. She also coached the Team USA women's swimming team at the 2012 Summer Games in London. McKeever served as a Team USA assistant coach at the 2004, 2008 and 2020 Summer Games.
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