U of U’s handling of swim coach abuse allegations draws criticism

Posted at 7:32 PM, Jun 08, 2013
and last updated 2013-06-08 21:32:41-04

SALT LAKE CITY –  An internal investigation into the University of Utah’s swim program is not moving fast enough, according to one parent.

The school hired three independent investigators in March to look into what happened within the athletic department when embattled former coach Greg Winslow worked there.

Winslow’s contract was not renewed after allegations surfaced that he had sexually abused a 15-year-old swimmer he coached in Arizona, several years ago. Since then, former swimmers at the U have come forward alleging Winslow was mistreating them for years.

“High ranking people in the athletic department, dating back to Greg Winslow’s first season, were aware of serious complaints expressed by both swimmers and their families, in writing and acknowledged in writing. And there are similar complaints each year during his time there. And that’s indisputable,” said Matt Fiascone, whose son swam under Winslow for nearly four years.

Fiascone's son said he saw verbal abuse and dangerous coaching tactics under Winslow. He was kicked off the team in 2012, after his father said years of complaints went ignored.

Fiascone said, “Ultimately, in the real world, that person has to accept responsibility for a system gone so awry.”

In February of 2008, parents of another swimmer sent an email to athletic director Chris Hill, detailing incidents that started in the fall of 2007. In one instance, they said Winslow threatened to kick their son out of practice if he used an asthma inhaler. Hill responded, countering that he believed the department had worked appropriately with the student, in and out of the classroom.

“When you look at the correspondence, the written correspondence and the notes of people involved and phone conversations and in person meetings, literally, every single year, there were multiple documented instances that should have caused someone to take action,” said Fiascone.

That student left the team, as did another swimmer whose parents also sent a complaint to the U of U athletic department in 2008.

FOX13 filed a public records request to find out how many students transferred out or quit the U’s swim program during Winslow’s years as coach, but it was denied, according to the school, due to the pending investigation.

Fiascone said he has record of several students departing, though.

“Over the last 12 months of the Winslow, it was an excess of 15,” Fiascone said, “Now, there are only about 40 members, so it’s an unusually high level of turn over. And that alone should have been a red flag.”

The school’s internal investigation was not given an end date, but Fiascone hopes its eventual findings will help put an end to years of frustration for his family.

He said, “What are the consequences today to make sure that that doesn't occur again in the future here in the swimming program or any other program at the University?”

In response to this story, a university spokesman said the investigation is in its final stages and a report will be made public.