University suspends swimming, diving programs after hazing allegations

Western Kentucky University suspended swimming and diving, programs with a rich history of winning, for five years in response to findings from police and Title IX investigations into allegations of hazing, drug use and sexual assault.

Title IX Coordinator Huda Melky found evidence of violations of the student code of conduct’s discrimination and harassment as well as sexual misconduct/assault policies, WKU announced in a news release Tuesday.

“This is a very difficult and unfortunate decision on many levels,” athletic director Todd Stewart said. “While many in the program have represented WKU with distinction, the overall findings of a consistent pattern of disappointing conduct is troubling and not acceptable at WKU.”

Swimming and diving team members will not lose their scholarships provided the students remain in good standing. Any members opting to transfer will be cleared to do so without limitations, though the university code of conduct violations have not yet been heard.

However, contracts of all coaches — head Bruce Marchionda, associate head coach Brian Thomas and diving coach Chelsea Ale — are being eliminated June 30, because evidence indicates the staff was aware of the alleged violations.

President Gary Ransdell sent a letter to faculty and staff after receiving the details of the investigations. The Title IX investigation ended April 6, two months after the police investigation.

“The violations include hazing, underage alcohol consumption, and abuse, including engagement of perspective student athletes on recruiting visits to campus … investigations found that coaches were aware of this pervasive culture and failed to sufficiently eliminate inappropriate behavior within these teams,” the letter reads.

The most notable athlete on either team is Claire Donahue, who won a medal at the London Summer Olympics by swimming the butterfly leg of the preliminary heats of the 4×100 medley relay. The men’s team is two-time defending Conference USA champion, and the women’s team won nine of the past 17 conference titles.

According to multiple reports, Bowling Green Police obtained a search warrant for a home near campus after Collin Craig, a former swimmer from California, raised allegations. The College Heights Herald student newspaper noted that police found beer kegs, drug paraphernalia and photos that allegedly showed evidence of sexual assault.

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