Code of Misconduct

by Casey Barrett

Roundtable idea for this year’s ASCA conference: Turning a Blind Eye… 

Welcome to Vegas, coaches. Another American Swimming Coaches Association conference due to start in Sin City tomorrow. Plenty of backslapping in store this year. After all, you lead the world’s greatest swimmers. Something that was proven yet again in spectacular fashion at this summer’s London Games. Team USA is the state of the art when it comes to swimming. This has always been so, and even with Phelps departing that dominance shows no sign of slowing.

So, belly on up to the blackjack table, knock back some whiskeys, hit on your cocktail waitress, and otherwise do what one comes to Vegas to do. You know the saying: What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas… Translation: Not to worry, in Las Vegas, your misbehavior will remain a secret. How appropriate. Given the current climate, whoever picked this year’s host city sure has a sick sense of humor.

I’d really rather be writing about the success stories. There have been so many. From Todd Schmitz to Jon Urbanchek, from Gregg Troy to Teri McKeever. Young and old, coaching men and women, the coaches in America are second to none. They include folks that I respect as much as anyone on earth. The ones who bring honor and dignity to a proud profession…

Unfortunately, that proud profession continues to be tarnished by the misdeeds of a select sick few. But more than that, it has been tarnished by a culture that has too often turned a blind eye in the past. The sexual abuse of teenage swimmers at the hands of their swim coaches remains a serious issue. Every single member of ASCA knows this. You’ve known it a lot longer than the investigative journalists and the ambulance chasing lawyers who’ve come sniffing around and defaming your trade.

Not to worry, I’m not going to point fingers and rip characters, not going to reprint defensive emails, and wallow down in the muck of misinformed allegations. There’s enough of that already out there. You’ve probably read all about it.

I’m just going to list three ASCA-related facts:

1. This is the ASCA “Code of Ethics”, Section C., the Coach to Athlete section. I’ve simply copy and pasted it off of the ASCA website:

Article #1. A coach member of the American Swimming Coaches Association will always make decisions based on the best interest of the athlete.

Article #2. A coach member of the American Swimming Coaches Association shall not engage in sexual relations with any minor.

Article #3. Sexual misconduct consists of any behavior that utilizes the influence of the coaching position to encourage inappropriate intimacy between coach and athlete.

Article #4. Coaches of Collegiate age athletes shall not engage in sexual relations with athletes that they coach, even of legal age.

2. In 2003, Rick Curl was elected President of ASCA.

3. At the time of his election, a large number of member coaches were well aware of his alleged relationship with Kelley Davies. (By “relationship”, I mean his criminal interactions with his young teenage swimmer, in which he engaged in statutory rape for a number of years.) This scandal was plenty well known in swimming circles, as was the hush money Curl paid to the Davies family. It was so well known that many coaches feared they would be sued by Curl if they mentioned it; something he apparently indicated he was prepared to do.

Like I said, just three facts.

Please discuss.