Sean Hutchison Resigns From FAST Amid Controversial Rumors -- December 30, 2010

FULLERTON, California, December 30. AMID rumors he categorically denies, Sean Hutchison has resigned from his coaching position at FAST according to the Washington Post.

The article states that Hutchison's resignation "came shortly after a club official confronted him about rumors that he was having a relationship with one of his female swimmers, but he said the rumors were untrue and did not compel his departure."

The Post also spoke with FAST's chief operation officer and head coach Bill Jewell regarding the resignation and the rumors.

"He is going his own way," Jewell told the Post. "I'm just not comfortable with some of the rumors, and I addressed them with him. Basically, the rest is pretty much private and personal and I don't want to get into it. I didn't ask him to leave. I asked him to solve this problem. . . . I'm being proactive. . . . Sean has always been an entrepreneurial guy; I suspect this is really what this is about. "

Hutchison specifically denied any relationship in his conversation with the Post.

"My goal all along, even before I came to Southern California, was to have a stand-alone professional team," Hutchison told the Post. "There is no relationship [with a swimmer]. I knew the rumors before Bill did and we did talk about them. He did whatever investigation he needed to do as an employer and came up with nothing."

In Aug. 2009, Hutchison moved from KING Aquatics to Fullerton to open a United States Olympic Committee (USOC) Post-Graduate Center as part of the Fullerton Aquatic Sports Team (FAST). Swimming World first broke that story at the time, and had an exclusive conversation with Hutchison prior to the move to California.

One thing that was apparent during that initial conversation is that coaching the FAST All-Stars was not a permanent proposition for Hutchison, something belied by the fact that he kept his ownership stake in KING and remained its chief executive officer since taking the FAST job in Aug. 2009.

This issue is the first test of USA Swimming's new athlete protection policies that require mandatory reporting of first-hand knowledge as well as regulates the interaction of coaches and swimmers even if in consensual adult relationships.

The policies and guidelines at play in this issue are mandatory reporting (policy) and adult relationships (guideline):

It is every member's responsibility to promptly report any incident regarding sexual misconduct by a member as described in Article 304.3.5 to USA Swimming's Athlete Protection Officer. Reporting must occur when an individual has firsthand knowledge of misconduct or where specific and credible information has been received from a victim or knowledgeable third party. Various state laws may also require reporting to law enforcement or to a designated child protection agency.

And, the following is under the Best Practice Guidelines of the USA Swimming Athlete Protection Plan:

Coaches should not engage in sexual intimacies with a former athlete for at least two years after the cessation or termination of professional services.

Because sexual intimacies with a former athlete are frequently harmful to the athlete, and because such intimacies undermine public confidence in the coaching profession and thereby deter the public's use of needed services, coaches should not engage in sexual intimacies with former athletes even after a two-year interval except in the most unusual circumstances. The coach who engages in such activity after the two years following cessation or termination of the coach-athlete relationship bears the burden of demonstrating that there has been no exploitation, in light of all relevant factors, including:

1. The amount of time that has passed since the coach-athlete relationship terminated;
2. The circumstances of termination;
3. The athlete's personal history;
4. The athlete's current mental status;
5. The likelihood of adverse impact on the athlete and others; and
6. Any statements or actions made by the coach during the course of the athlete-coach relationship suggesting or inviting the possibility of a post-termination sexual or romantic relationship with the athlete or coach.
7. Both the athlete and the coach must be 18 years of age or older.

If someone had enough first-hand knowledge to circulate a rumor, the validity of which Hutchison denies, then they are in violation of USA Swimming's mandatory reporting policy requiring this information to be sent to USA Swimming's Athlete Protection Officer Susan Woessner. An official report has yet to be filed at USA Swimming.

"Employment decisions are left to the individual clubs," USA Swimming spokesperson Jamie Fabos Olsen told Swimming World. "In the absence of a complaint of misconduct, USA Swimming does not get involved."

One of the primary reasons USA Swimming updated its policies to include mandatory reporting, something the swimming community at-large demanded, was to eliminate the rumor mill and bring actual accusations to light in a way that would have a finite resolution.

Hutchison has not responded to a request for comment by Swimming World.

Full text of the Washington Post article.

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December 30, 2010 I don't think it's fair to Coach Hutchinson to publish this article as written. Is Washington Post trash "journalism" something that should be reprinted at Swimming World Magazine? An article about how he resigned would have been appropriate, but to chime in with the WP's "reporting" about unsubstantiated rumors is unethical and slanderous. SW has editors, so you can't play the "just the messenger" card. SW, knowing the community it serves, has a responsibility to decide what is and isn't fit for print. In a profession where reputation is everything, even false rumors can derail one's career, and I would expect SW to exercise better discretion.
Submitted by: fl_coach
December 30, 2010 I think it's a good article and the WP is not exactly the National Enquirer.I dont understand why you think it is trash journalism. Both Hutchinson and Jewell addressed the topic and their responses are documented. Their is no speculation as to whom the swimmer is nor any inflamatory rumor driven details. SW and the WP both reported the news in a fair way.
Submitted by: senko
December 30, 2010 I don't have a problem with them reporting the rumors...the in-depthness of the conversation about them is a little misleading.

What's the over under on how long before some old-school coach comes on here and complains about how Hutchison was ruining the world of swimming with his low-yardage training?
Submitted by: GigEmAggies
December 30, 2010 I understand that the topic was addressed and documented. But if the rumors are yet to be substantiated, why was it even brought up? Printing it, in itself, does harm the coach's image, and at this point it is unfound speculation. What are they going to do next, quote "anonymous sources" like the WP? And yes, that's trashy journalism.
Submitted by: fl_coach
December 30, 2010 So do Sean and Mark "appear" together on a pool deck near you (in SoCal) some time soon ??
Submitted by: jerry
December 30, 2010 Very thorough policy set forth by USA Swimming on the Sexual Misconduct Reporting Requirements, but where is the section that talks about the protection of coaches from unsubstantiated rumors? I am not defending Coach Hutchinson with the alleged allegations, just making the point that a double standard should exist to protect coaches/officials from any accusations that in no way could be proven (which in this situation, seems to be the case thus far). Rumors and allegations like this, if untrue, tarnish and can even destroy a good coaches professional and personal reputation forever. Other than suing for slander and libel, does anyone know if there are policies set forth by USAS for instances like this?
Submitted by: Globalswim
December 30, 2010 I'm not focusing on the actual rumors at all; there is no evidence suggested yet, and if there is any truth to them it'll eventually come out.

For now, my question is more about the effect of the rumors on Hutchinson's strategy: If his goal was to have a stand-alone professional team, then why did he stymie Jendrick (who had just bought a house in Seattle area last year, unaware that Hutchinson planned to move to FAST), uproot Kukors and (the now-retired) Hoelzer, and sign on Knutson, who had already had the tables turned on her by Auburn, if his intention was not to stay at FAST anyway? Perhaps the stand-alone team was a longer-term goal of his, and the rumors just hastened the decision.
Submitted by: liquidassets
December 30, 2010 As far as libel, I'm sure the SW folks are more than well-versed in the defamation laws. To have a case there, Hutchison would have to prove that the article was posted with the intent of causing him harm, which would be ridiculous of SW to do, because they need those relationships to stay intact to do what they do. Anyways, since NYT v Sullivan in the 60's, no case against SW...

Beyond that, USA-Swimming only has authority over it's own membership. They can't enact any punishments on anyone outside of the organization.

Anyways, back to the issue at hand...

I thought I saw in his comments that implied that his new stand-alone team intended to be nearby...Did I misread that? Would prevent anyone from having to move to stay with him.
Submitted by: GigEmAggies
December 30, 2010 OK I reread this, I missed the part that it was going to be a temporary position for him. But if so, why are his swimmers reportedly surprised by his decision? He must be leaving earlier than expected. Gig, I don't read anything implying he would stay nearby, but if true that would be great for the swimmers to have that choice; especially Hoff who is progressing nicely and Kukors who has been with him all along.
Submitted by: liquidassets
December 30, 2010 Gig, wasn't inferring that libel could be placed against SW or any publication here, just questioning USAS's authority over it's own membership in a case like this...

Will be interesting to see how the landscape in Socal changes after this!
Submitted by: Globalswim
December 30, 2010 Hutchinson is ruining swimming with his low yardage training.

Just kidding. Like low yardage/high intensity.
Submitted by: fever
December 30, 2010 I'm with fl_coach on this. "Rumors" - is that all it takes to have your reputation questioned in the public arena. Let's face it, this Hutchison may be a great guy and excellent coach, but you wouldn't remember any of that based on this and the WP's article.

I'm all for policing our sport, but if the allegation is serious, then there either better be a name behind it or some fire behind the smoke. Anything being done about the source of the rumor?

What I got from this article is that you can start a completely unsubstantiated rumor to totally destroy someone's career with complete impunity, because, and I quote:

"In the absence of a complaint of misconduct, USA Swimming does not get involved."

Please, let's be clear that this is WRONG. It's good that you point out "If someone had enough first-hand knowledge to circulate a rumor...then they are in violation of USA Swimming's mandatory reporting policy requiring this information to be sent...", but it's not enough.
Submitted by: mario2007
December 30, 2010 Does anyone know if he plans on staying close to Fullerton? I hope he does because people made a giant move to train with him (ex. Katie Hoff, Dagny, Kara Lynn) and another move would probably be financially tough for those without the big sponsorship bucks.
Submitted by: Bbrswimmer24
December 30, 2010 This is from the Seattle Times:
Bill Jewell, who runs the FAST program, said, "Sean really wants to take his dog-and-pony show to another location. I don't want him to drag his feet."
Jewell said Hutchison wasn't fired, though he did acknowledge "rumors surfaced that made me feel really uncomfortable."
Hutchison said it has been difficult to deal with presumptions about his behavior away from the pool.
"I would rather not comment, and the reason I would rather not comment is because I don't want to add more validity to this discussion," he said. "But as a person, no, it's not very easy."
Hutchison told The Washington Post: "I knew the rumors before Bill did and we did talk about them. He did whatever investigation he needed to do as an employer and came up with nothing."

OK, so both Jewell and Hutchison acknowledge that their were rumors and were aware of them. The rumors made Jewell "really uncomfortable". From what I have heard Jewell is a coach who has been around awhile ,does a good job and is a decent guy.It is his job to confront a coach when he hears rumors just. Sean answered the questions and resigned. He was not fired or put on a 60 day administrative leave(sound familiar)he chose to resign to persue what he has previously acknowledged to be his goal.
My guess would be, yea, their were rumors and he got called in for them. Being a strong minded alpha kinda guy he thought, "this is bs, I'm outta here". Sooner then expected but nevertheless, part of the plan.It's a done deal ..he wasnt forced out . Had he wanted to stay, he probably would have.
Am I the only one that thinks "he can take his dog and pony show to another location" shows maybe some friction totally unrelated to the rumors?

Submitted by: senko
December 30, 2010 senko yeah, that all sounds about right based on what we've heard so far.
Submitted by: liquidassets
December 30, 2010 I wouldn't hold my breath 'till you see Schubert and Hutchinson as co-coaches anywhere.

Their approaches are about as different as John Wooden and Bobby Knight!
Submitted by: slickwillie32
December 31, 2010 False reporting is a violation of the USA Swimming Code of Conduct so there is your protection for not only coaches, but ALL USA Swimming members.
Submitted by: jimswim
January 1, 2011 Nice tidbit of information, jimswim. So the next question that comes to mind is: This hasn't been resolved to any degree of satisfaction.

I mean, either there is merit to the accusation and USA Swimming is obligated to investigate or there is no merit and this article shouldn't have been published or should have been published, and just as those who are indicted and exposed on the coaching side of things, the false accuser should have been indicted and exposed.

Can anybody explain this?
Submitted by: mario2007
January 1, 2011 Mario, this is my point exactly!
Submitted by: Globalswim
January 1, 2011 Ok, I'm less concerned about who started what rumor, or what Sean may be doing with his private life and 20 yr olds. Yes there is the code of conduct, blah, blah, and I do agree the athletes need to be protected AND coaches too.

BUT ...Does anybody know when and where Sean will be setting up shop. Who is going to go with him? and what the other swimmers will do? Urbanchek for some I assume.
Submitted by: jerry
January 1, 2011 Yeah, I agree with Jerry...I'm not sure that a coach having a relationship with a 20 year old will "ruin his reputation"...since in the real world this sort of thing is not a big deal.

I'm more interested in where he's going to be coaching, and what this means for FAST as a future post-grad training center. Is the USOC contractually committed to maintain this agreement with them?

I also know that there are swimmers who had been working with both Urbanchek and Hutchison. Will be interesting to see what they do. As Hoff has said in interviews, there's a big adjustment process to get into Hutchison's training methodology...I'd be curious about what the same adjustment process is to get out of his program and what that means for Shanghai...
Submitted by: GigEmAggies
January 1, 2011 The whole post-grad training center is just a way to enrich the old-boy network of U.S.S. Sean is just a very young "old boy". Teams, programs and coaches should be allowed to rise and fall based on their merits, not whether they have the political pull to get subsidized by our dues. So, instead of wondering where Sean is going to be coaching and whether the post-grad training will stay where it is or follow him, we should be wondering if this is a nail in the coffin of the whole system. Much as the Resident Team died a much needed death.
Submitted by: fever
January 1, 2011 A little over 2 years ago Sean strong-armed the King board into transfering ownership of King Aquatic Club to himself. Less than a year after that he abandoned his swimmers to take on the opportunity in Southern California. Now if you are to believe him, he is leaving that opportunity to take on another greater opportunity. It tells you a lot about the man (and I use that term lighlty) Sean Hutchison's only interest is himself. He does not deserve any praise or respect.
Submitted by: kingparent
January 1, 2011 According to the USA Today article Sean insisted ..."his departure was a long-planned move to form his own pro team near his current job at the Fullerton Aquatics Sports Team (FAST)." Taking a liberal view of 'near', that could mean almost anywhere in southern CA - not just Orange county.

kingparent: I am usually wary of coaches who want to take over a parent-run team - especially a youngish coach whose career past includes moving from team to team as opportunities present themselves. Hard to change an established pattern. Also, the parents built up the team over the years, through thick and thin. Giving that up to a coach who hasn't been there from day 1, even a very successful coach, seems risky. Especially if the coach can retain a CEO title and not even be actively coaching the team he owns. That might be best for the coach (job security to come back to if something happens, extra income), but lots of ways for it to go wrong for the club. I'd be interested in the evolution of the process.
Submitted by: get the info
January 2, 2011 get the info- The parents at King did not "buil(d) up the team over the years, through thick and thin". The previous coach accepted a job at Highline Swim Club, and through sound training methods and smart management decisions (starting additional sites and changing the name while absorbing a smaller team) became a very strong King Aquatic Club, winning the Junior National(West) title. People seem to forget this.
Submitted by: pontiacbro
January 2, 2011 Get the info: Yes, you're absolutely correct. The KING membership WAS very wary about Mr. Hutchison and his motives to gain ownership of KING Aquatic Club. But there was also a belief that he was really building this team to be another swim club powerhouse, like Bob Bowman built in Baltimore. There were some elite swimmers that were coming to train with KING because many believed he had a gift of helping swimmers reach their full potential. Many parents feared he would leave if not given ownership, so they were willing to sign the team over to him, hoping he would do right by their team. But in no time at all, he announced his next big opportunity and moved to Southern California. Looking back, many of these parents now regret handing their team over to this man. He was willing to leave his own club and all the people that believed in him. Is he now doing the same to these Olympic caliber swimmers who came to Fullerton to swim? He may or may not be a great coach, but he has shown by his actions that as a person, he is far from great.
When Mr Hutchison moved to California two years ago, some members thought it was the worst thing that could happen to the club. Now I believe that the worst thing that could happen is--if he returned.
In response to the allegations, KING Aquatic Club posted a notice on their website stating that its coaches stand behind Sean Hutchison. I personally know that there are many members that would prefer that he take his "dog-and-pony show" somewhere far, far away. The team is better off without him.

Submitted by: kingparent
January 2, 2011 Ha, King coaches support the owner? I mean, I guess that says something, if the coaches of a club support their boss...that's a good career move...

It's shocking to me that there wasn't a clause in the ownership agreement that stated that if Hutchison ever went to coach elsewhere, then the club reverted to a non-profit parent controlled team, or at the least allowed for a parent buyout opportunity. When he took over King, did he have to pay anything for it? Or did the parents just give it to him? Seems like bad business decision, regardless of who the coach is, without some sort of out plan, but as they say hindsight is 20/20.
Submitted by: GigEmAggies
January 2, 2011 Speaking as a coach and also a parent, I think that in general the coach should not be given too much power in a club. If the coach starts the club himself, that is a different story. A coach should have a great deal of control but there should be a way to overrule him. Checks and balances.

In terms of North Baltimore, while Bob Bowman did coach and develop some great swimmers, Murray Stephens made the NBAC into a great club. Bowman was hired by Stephens. We should not forget that. Sometimes it takes a different personality to build a great club than to coach some great swimmers.
Submitted by: fever
January 2, 2011 pontiacbro, you are correct. King was a strong program for years prior to Hutchinson's arrival. It is unfortunate that the King program was turned over to an individual who didnt even stick around to coach just look for the next opportunity. I hope the parents just didnt hand it over that would have been a huge mistake and an injustice to many who have a history with that storied program.

It will be interesting if USA Swimming will stick by its guns and enforces penalties for infractions stated in the code of conduct. If indeed the allegations are true, Hutchinson may be banished from the deck. Yes, the rules apply to everyone. kingparent may be out of luck in that if Hutchinson is banned, he will be right back up at King running the team that he cant coach.
Submitted by: Sidewinder
January 2, 2011 What does it say about USA Swimming that they haven't announced an investigation at the very least? After all the tough talk about athlete protection, here is this very pressing situation, and nothing from them. Another failure from USAS.
Submitted by: JeffyFit
January 2, 2011 I'm sure they're investigating it. It doesn't say anywhere that they have to announce every investigation. It would amount to a witch-hunt or "making an example" if they publicized Hutchison's investigation just because he's a high ranking coach.

I don't have as strong of feelings about the man as many do (seems to be quite polarizing as a coach...) but the article clearly states that there was no complaint made. If USA-Swimming had to chase down every "rumor" that might have been started by a disgruntled parent, then how many of us would still be coaches? I know I sure wouldn't, because there's a fair number of parents who sure would like to start rumors anonymously and see my reputation ruined...
Submitted by: GigEmAggies
January 3, 2011 fever: Coached owned teams don't answer to anyone but the LSC, USA Swimming and the government. Parents can report to the LSC and USA-S an grievances they have and leave the team, no parent board when the coach owns a team.

Jeffyfit: If there has been no formal complaint against Coach Hutchinson, then they have no foundation for an investigation. As Gigem said, chasing rumors would result in no coaches, sad but true..This is not a failure by USA Swimming and I am sure they are monitoring this situation and the any complaint that comes in will be investigated. As little as USA-S has done in the past, they can't do anything without a complaint.

Sidewinder: Assuming a complaint is filed and then all goes through against him, I don't believe he would be able to be involved in USA-S in any way, including ownership of a club team. You have to be a member of USA-S to be a club owner/head coach/board member. Being banned takes that way..


As for how this unfolds, I hope not too many kids and pros alike get hosed by this deal. I don't care where he ends up, just as long the kids/pros training is not too adversely effected. This is the kind of stuff (team hopping) I didn't expect from Coach Hutchinson, something we see from college football coaches, but apparently no one is as they seem according to parents involved.
Submitted by: HC_HLA
January 3, 2011 HC- Nicely put.
I am anxious to see the USAS response and if indeed a complaint was filed.
As for Hutchinson, you lie in the bed you make.
Anybody smell a Lane Kiffin?
Submitted by: sidewinder
January 4, 2011 If Urbanchek remains at Fullerton, and that is his home, the status quo is great for all of the athletes training for London at FAST. He's the greatest.
Submitted by: outside smoke
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