U. launches investigation into alleged misconduct in swim program and how it was handled
SALT LAKE CITY — The University of Utah will conduct an extensive investigation into alleged misconduct in the swimming and diving program and allegations that the university's athletic department didn't properly respond to the alleged offenses.
University of Utah President David Pershing announced Monday that the university, on the recommendation of athletics director Chris Hill, would immediately begin an independent investigation.
Hill met throughout the day Monday in his office with approximately a dozen media representatives in an attempt to smooth out the controversy that has developed since allegations of misconduct in his swimming program became national news over the weekend.
U. swim coach Greg Winslow was fired last week after allegations of sexual abuse with a minor in his previous job in Arizona became public and were followed by allegations that the athletic department knew of numerous problems in the swim program over several years but failed to do anything.
Two days after speaking to the Deseret News about the problems in his swimming and diving program, Hill had little more to say Monday afternoon.
Hill's basic message Monday was that he can't talk about the investigation, but that independent investigators will get to the bottom of the whole thing and make recommendations going forward.
"We want to find out what we knew, when we knew, what we did about it and if there's anything we can do different if the recommendation comes out that we need to do that," Hill said. "We care about our student-athletes and I personally want (the investigators) to do it right. There may be some things come up that help all of us to do a better job."
On Monday morning, Pershing issued a statement about the allegations against the swim coach and athletic department:
"This past week, public reports of alleged misconduct by a former swim coach and of the University of Utah's response to those allegations, have called into question the university's processes and our commitment to our student-athletes. Though I cannot comment on specific allegations, I can state unequivocally that any conduct by a staff member or student that jeopardizes the safety and well-being of any student, will not be tolerated."
Pershing said Hill asked him to appoint an independent investigator to review these allegations.
"One of my major goals since becoming president is to enhance the quality of the student experience, and that certainly includes our student-athletes. I believe that transparency is essential in such cases and I have authorized a comprehensive, independent review of the university's swim program, with investigators reporting directly to me and presenting their ultimate findings to me."
Pershing said he asked two attorneys, Michael Glazier and Alan Sullivan, to lead the investigation. He said Glazier is a partner in a nationally recognized law firm Bond, Schoeneck & King, and "has an impeccable record and experience in higher education and collegiate athletics investigations."
Of Sullivan, Pershing said, "He is a highly respected member of the Salt Lake City legal community and is a trusted lawyer of over four decades with the regional law firm of Snell & Wilmer.
"Specifically, I have charged Mr. Glazier and Mr. Sullivan to determine what, if any, incidents occurred within the swimming program; when did those incidents take place; what information was conveyed to the University about these incidents; what, if any, actions were taken in response; and what recommendations, if implemented, would better ensure the safety and well-being of our student-athletes at the university. I have requested that they conduct their review with the utmost urgency while ensuring that it is comprehensive and accurate."
Pershing said he and Hill are committed to providing Utah's student-athletes with a "safe and positive experience" at the university. He also said he would not comment further until the review was completed "to protect the integrity of the independent review."
Hill said he is directly over football, men's and women's basketball and gymnastics, while other assistants in the athletic department are over the rest of the sports.
Pete Oliszczak, the former associate athletic director who was directly over swimming, abruptly resigned in October, but Hill said he couldn't comment on the reasons for his departure, calling it a "personnel matter.
"We want to make sure going forward that if we can get better in how we do things that we do. That's real important because we have 400 student-athletes. We've got to do right by everybody," Hill said.
"We've got some things we've got to make sure we look at and there may be some things that come up that will help all of us to do a better job if that's what the conclusion is. I want to see what kind of recommendations come out so we can make sure we do things right."
Hill had the investigation would begin immediately, but said he had "no idea" when it would be completed.
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