COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado, June 12. CLOSING out what has been a nearly two-year process, former USA Swimming Diversity Specialist Ben Sheppard has been added to the USA Swimming Banned for Life list today.
Sheppard was found to have violated two separate USA Swimming Codes of Conduct, and has been banned as of June 5, 2013. Those codes are Sections 304.3.7 and 304.3.17, of the 2011 USA Swimming Code of Conduct.
304.3.7 as of 2011
304.3.7 Any sexual conduct, advance or other inappropriate sexually oriented behavior or action directed towards an athlete by (i) a coach member or other non-athlete member, or (ii) any other adult participating in any capacity whatsoever in the affairs or activities of USA Swimming (whether such adult is a member or not). Any nonconsensual physical sexual conduct, or pattern of unwelcome advances or other sexual harassment in connection with or incidental to a USA Swimming-related activity by any person participating in the affairs or activities of USA Swimming (whether such person is a member or not) directed toward any member or other person participating in the affairs or activities of USA Swimming.
304.3.17 as of 2011
304.3.17 Any other material and intentional act, conduct or omission not provided for above, which is detrimental to the image or reputation of USA Swimming, a LSC or the sport of swimming.
Sheppard was on the rise in the coaching ranks, founding the Oakland Undercurrents in 1997 and making it a model of how to bring — and keep — minority athletes in swimming. Many publications had hailed him for his work in inspiring athletes to reach for high goals in the sport and to not let the color of their skin hold them back.
His work with the Oakland Undercurrents led to a position as a diversity consultant with USA Swimming beginning in 2009, traveling the country to speak with and mentor coaches. While building the Undercurrents, Sheppard spent time on deck at his alma mater at UC-Berkeley as assistant coach to Mike Bottom and Nort Thornton.
In September 2011, the East Bay Express reported that Sheppard was fired by USA Swimming and suspended as coach when allegations of him sending inappropriate text messages to female swimmers began to surface. Though Sheppard categorically denied the allegations, USA Swimming's investigation continued.
Today, USA Swimming's investigation and review process has come to a final close with Sheppard forever being banned from membership within the USA Swimming ranks.
The National Board of Review process proved to be lengthy, including an appeal by USA Swimming of an initial punishment of a five-year suspension of Sheppard's membership in November 2012. Even with that suspension in hand, USA Swimming felt Sheppard's violations were egregious enough to push for a permanent ban, which is successfully acquired from the National Board of Review this month.
USA Swimming's statement
USA Swimming has permanently suspended former member coach Benjamin Sheppard for violations of Sections 304.3.7 and 304.3.17 of the 2011 USA Swimming Code of Conduct and has added his name to the public list of Individuals Permanently Suspended or Ineligible.
In November 2012, the National Board of Review convened a hearing which resulted in a five-year suspension of Mr. Sheppard's USA Swimming membership. USA Swimming appealed the National Board of Review's decision and requested Mr. Sheppard be permanently expelled from the organization. Following the appeal process, the appeal panel–made up of five members of USA Swimming's Board of Directors–permanently suspended Mr. Sheppard's membership and ordered his name be added to the public list of individuals suspended for life from USA Swimming.