SALT LAKE CITY — University of Utah head swimming coach Greg Winslow has been suspended from his job pending an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse of a 15-year-old girl while at his previous job in Arizona six years ago.
Winslow is alleged to have sexually abused the minor when he was the coach at Sun Devil Aquatics, a club team at Arizona State University, in 2007, according to a statement from Arizona State University following a lengthy investigation by the Arizona State University Police Department.
News of the allegations first surfaced Wednesday night when a blogger posted that a police report had been filed about the alleged incident in Arizona and the story was reported by Swimming World Magazine. The allegations claim the abuse happened in a locked coach’s office. It is alleged to have continued over a two-year period.
The Utah swimming and diving team is currently competing at the Pac-12 Swimming and Diving Championships in Federal Way, Wash., which run through next Wednesday.
In regards to the accusations leveled against Winslow, director of athletics Chris Hill made the following statement Thursday.
“The Athletics Department first learned of the allegations against our swim coach Greg Winslow last night,” Hill said. “While it is my understanding from an article published this morning that charges have not been filed against Coach Winslow, I feel the allegations are serious enough to suspend him immediately pending further investigation.”
Hill has appointed Richard Marschner, who is in his third year as the diving coach, as the interim swimming and diving coach. He will oversee both the men's and women's teams.
In a press conference Thursday afternoon, Hill said University of Utah officials learned Thursday morning that Arizona State University's police department had contacted the University of Utah's Department of Public Safety on Dec. 5, 2012, regarding Winslow.
"The police chief was asked by the investigators when they called to keep it confidential, and he did," said Keith Sterling, communications director for the University of Utah. "So no one was made aware of these allegations until last night when the news broke."
Concussion Inc. first reported the allegations involving the unidentified teenage swimmers at the Arizona club. In a statement to the website, Winslow said: “These are extremely serious allegations, and if I am accused, I will certainly respond.”
Hill said a number of factors went into deciding to place Winslow on leave before charges are filed, but first and foremost was the serious nature of the allegations. He said they will continue to seek more information, but so far have relied on news reports. "We have not heard anything yet, from anybody today, nothing official," said Hill. "In many ways we're reacting as you are today, something we've just heard."
Winslow has also been under investigation by the University of Utah’s Office of Equal Opportunity for incidents involving African-American swimmer Karson Applin. The OEO talked to more than 50 swimmers in an investigation spanning nearly three months.
According to Hill, the OEO advised him in late January that no disciplinary action was recommended.
Because of that, the administration took no action against Winslow.
During Winslow’s six years as the U. coach, well over a dozen swimmers either quit or were dismissed from the team. Also two of his assistant coaches resigned last year and have taken other collegiate swimming jobs.
Hill said the only other issue Winslow has had is some struggles with alcohol, which he's been very open about, Hill said.
Winslow does oversee a swim camp during the summer at the University of Utah. Those who work at the camp undergo background checks, said Hill.
As for how the team is handling the situation at such a critical point in the season, Hill isn't sure.
"I haven't talked to anyone on the swim team," he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.