An Open Letter to the Western Kentucky University Swim Team

Dear Western Kentucky University swimmers past and present,

What are you thinking right now? Are you upset? Angry? Despondent? In Denial?

The swimming world knows your news. All of America knows your news.

A five-year team suspension and the loss of jobs for your coaches (who knew what was happening and what did you do to stop it?) because a former swimmer came forward with charges of hazing, sexual assault, and drug use by your team. How long has all of this been going on, and how much longer would it go on if someone didn’t come forward and report it?

Is this the way you want to be remembered? Do you want people to see swimming on your resume and ask if you hazed anyone, if you forced drugs or alcohol upon your underage teammates? Do you want to walk around in your WKU swim team shirt and have people wonder if you were on the team’s “picture board” that had pictures of intoxicated students in the nude or partially nude, some written upon with racial slurs?

Some people think the five-year sentence is overreacting and some people think it is exactly what is needed.

Whether you did what you were blamed of or not, whether the sentence is correct or not, I can’t understand how you all could do this to one another.

A team is a lifeline. A team is a unit, strong and focused, fighting to achieve one goal. You get in the pool with these people each morning and you sweat with them each afternoon. Your teammates are the ones who share your hopes and dreams, who know your fears and failures. They are supposed to cheer for you and protect you and pick you up when you fall down. Teammates are your strongest family members because you live with them and grow with them, and I don’t see how you could fail one another in such a way.

I want to know if you regret any of what happened and if you ever thought it was wrong. Did your team not ever matter to you? Did you not ever protect each other or worry about each other or love each other?

If my team was not by my side, believing in me and pushing me each day, I never would have made it as far as I did in the pool or in life. My teammates are my best friends, my future bridesmaids, my study partners and my go-to counselors. We argue and we don’t always get along, but my teammates are not there to drag me down or make me uncomfortable. They are there to save me and to push me to succeed.

I’m disappointed for all of you. I’m disappointed that you lost your team and your chance to swim. I’m disappointed that high school juniors and seniors who planned on becoming Hilltoppers are now having to rethink their college choice and their plans.

But more importantly, I’m disappointed in all of you. I’m disappointed that you couldn’t support and care for each other. I’m disappointed that you chose partying and crude jokes over taking care of one another. I’m disappointed that the world had to learn of your acts because none of you stood up to the situation and said it was wrong. None of you said no or protected your team or changed what was happening.

I’m sorry that you have lost your chance to dive into the water each day and race with others who share your goals. But I hope you learn from it. I hope you see your actions and you understand their cost. And to all swimmers: I hope you don’t forget this and I hope you never let it happen again, because team needs to come first. Protect the family.

Sincerely,

A Disheartened Swimmer

Watch emotional video interview with Claire Donahue talking about impact and questioning why the women’s team is being punished.

Editor’s note: Abby Boone is the author of this open letter.  She is a Swimming World college intern. The Swimming World staff agreed to publish this open letter to present the point of view of a college swimmer who has experienced the benefits of being on a college swim team and the responsibility that comes with it. The author’s opinion is not necessarily the opinion of Swimming World Magazine. Read a letter from the WKU President and Athletic Director here 

57 Comments

57 comments

  1. avatar
    BillyBob

    i feel like this is a little harsh for someone who has only heard everything second hand…

  2. Mahmoud Abdel-Aziz

    Abby Boone you have a great sincerely heart and soul fully with hope I believe that you love the team more than your self . One day You will have a great future , great people like you only lives to make a difference in the H2O world .

  3. Mahmoud Abdel-Aziz

    Super like for a true , honest ” champion ” effective work.

    • avatar
      Thank you... But no.

      It is really funny how everyone and anyone can judge… even when they have no room to judge.

      Have you ever heard of the saying… don’t believe everything you read online… or read period…

      Humm… might want to take a second to think about that 🙂

      Yeah… in college there is drinking… there are people who do drugs… there are people who are mean… there are idiots… there are problems in the classroom and in the gym…

      And all of that… is exactly what prepares one for the real world.
      Because as we all know… life isn’t fair.

      Hazing…. humm… so if one is pressured to do something that is considered hazing… well I’m sorry but in any sport… everyday is a pressure…

      Pressure to be eligible to compete
      Pressure to preform well in practice
      Pressure to preform well at meets… even to the point of passing out by fear of under delivering..

      So if a D1 Swimmer can not handle “Peer Pressure” then they should not be a swimmer or an athlete period.

      Everyone in college is an adult (expect for a few exceptions)… and in being an adult…

      If an Adult can’t handle peer pressure… then they are really not prepared for the real world…

      To go back to first grade… sticks and stones may break my bones but words can’t hurt me… apparently someone missed that class.

      To all that think they know…
      To all that think they can judge without being there…

      Thank you… But no.

      From one who actually has room to talk.

      • avatar
        Swammer

        Humm… actually, yes. Your comment reads like it was written by someone who could use a little more time hitting the books, and less time hitting the bong. Re-read the article, and try to actually comprehend its message and take it to heart. Oh yeah, and grow up!

      • avatar
        AvantSwim

        Swammer…agreed!

  4. Michael Price

    Nice letter, but you are assuming these accusations are all true.

  5. John Gullotta

    Not much constructive information here, just a shaming letter to kick kids while their down. You write ”teammates are not there to drag me down or make me uncomfortable” however that is what you have just done to these swimmers.

  6. Heather York DiFulvio

    Amen! Just because they didn’t participate doesn’t mean they weren’t complicit. And Michael Price, if they were suspended for 5 years, then it’s a good assumption it is true. It’s no longer in the allegation phase.

    • avatar
      WKU Swim Mama

      Heather : you know what they say about assuming things……

    • avatar

      Money- Heathers it all comes down to money. It has nothing to do with the truth of the allegations. The womens team wasn’t interviewed, questions or had any allegations against them. They have zero answers from the administration as to why they were cut. They woke up on morning and were told they were done swimming and if they wanted to continue transfer to another school.

      • avatar
        Haley

        so you think that Gary Randsell would risk the BAD publicity of western Kentucky university for more money? REALLY. It had to have been something terrible the team did or someone did that everyone knew about including the coaches. They knew what was going on. Obviously if it was money issues they would have not cut such a great program that has done so well…And made the school look AWFUL a just to get more money.

      • avatar
        WKU Swim Mama

        Haley…. honey, you have a lot of growing up to do. I really wish it wasn’t about money but it was. Talk to your coach… IF you are a swimmer and IF he/she is willing to be honest with you, they will agree it was an incredibly harsh and unwarranted punishment. I have spoken with multiple D1/D2 coaches and they are all stunned the women’s team was cut and they ALL AGREE it was about $$. You are so naive and you have much to learn about how ugly this world of ours can be. Unfortunately, people like Abbe Boone and you seem to feel you have the right to be judge and jury on those whom you know nothing about. As I said to Abbe, IF you are a swimmer, you should be questioning the loss of yet ANOTHER swim team, instead of maligning swimmers who you don’t even know. Mark my words, the day is coming when college swimming will no longer exist and you will have supported a small piece of that.

  7. avatar
    Swimsauce

    What purpose does this article serve? The entire team is distraught and older alumni as well. Stuff like this just adds acid to the burn. Not to mention you’re lumping the entire team together when the allegations were made against the men’s team exclusively. You don’t think the media didn’t sensationalize this just a bit?

    The WKU swim team was a close knit family and this headline was not an accurate representation of 99% of people on the team. You are very quick to throw them under the bus.

  8. avatar
    Will Tullock

    I understand that you are trying to come from a good place with this article, but when it comes to this particular circumstance you seem to have made the same mistake that so many others have. You have already judged and found every single member of this group guilty in the court of popular opinion. You have taken for gospel what you have read without ever attempting to learn anything about the members of this team. It’s so easy to make judgements on how these swimmers have “let their team down,” but the reality is you don’t know them and you know nothing about their team other than what you have read on the internet.

    Hazing is never right, and there is no room in collegiate athletics for the abuse of teammates. But the truth is you don’t know anything about that team or the situation, and shaming then from your moral high horse won’t help you get to know that there are a lot of good people in that group. If you want to be a successful journalist, I suggest you lose the tone of superiority.

    http://www.bgdailynews.com/news/wku-plans-bone-marrow-registry-drive/article_e04ca43a-315b-59fc-b178-ae2f05d9d348.html

    There are a lot more on that team like him. Try to get to know them before making judgement.

    • avatar
      WKU Swim Mama

      Thank You, Will….. you wisdom is appreciated! Some much talent and so much goodness wasted.

  9. avatar
    WKU Swim Mama

    Abby… as a mother, I am very disappointed in your hasty judgement. I have taught my daughter to ALWAYS know the facts before you jump to conclusions. Shame on you for using your swim notoriety to promote something which you know nothing about. Colin Craig had a FAKE ID…. asked older athletes to purchase alcohol MANY times and this just begins to touch on the many trouble this young man had. YOU know nothing of the situation except what you have read. Again, shame on you!
    Also… WKU Women’s Team NEVER were under investigation. They were never interviewed, updated, they are not mentioned in ANY reports. They literally had NO IDEA they were even on the chopping block.
    This situation is more about politic’s than anything else. WKU President is proposing a new ‘football budget’ that raises the head coaches salary from $150,000 to $600,000, the Def. Coord salary from $150,000 to $300,00 AND adding 7 NEW football coaching positions with a combined salary of $460.000.00. Where do you suppose he is coming up with the money.!! Abby…. you should be upset that a SWIM TEAM was sold down the river for football coaches!!!

    • avatar

      Of all comments posted, Swim Mama’s observation regarding unnecessary inclusion of the women’s swimming program is to the point. Supposition Western Kentucky Swimming was sold out to assist funding the Division 1 Football program follows the catchphrase “follow the money”.
      From the instance of the announcement both varsity programs were suspended, my instinct was to follow the money. Good call Swim Mama, good call.

      To close, for all who participated as team members, and all who support our team, from our humble beginnings, I say; “Oh Yea, Oh Yea, Oh HELL Yea” !

      • avatar
        Guest

        If WKU’s team even had an inkling that the school was looking to cut corners on funding athletic programs, why did they give it to the school on a silver platter by hazing?

        Members of the team hazed. The team knew it. As a team, they could have stopped hazing. They didn’t. The coaches didn’t. Getting caught and it being reported doesn’t change the fact that the team hazed. It only changed the fact that there won’t be a swim program for the next five years.

        Swimming is not a sport like football that brings in revenue. Everyone knows that.

        Place the blame where it belongs.

      • avatar
        WKU Swim Mama

        Mr. Guest….. the swim team had NO “inkling they were going to cut corners on funding athletic programs”. Good Lord…. do you think college’s would announce that anyway? LOL! For pity sake, that is ridiculous! I will say it AGAIN…. the Women’s Team were NEVER TOLD they were under investigation…. NEVER!!! Only the men. The Women’s team were NEVER interviewed. NEVER! No female swimmer was EVER questioned, interviewed, spoken with or mentioned as being under investigation in the media, by the WKU press etc….. How in the world can you defend yourself when you don’t even know your on trial. This was all done on purpose… The Women’s Team knew absolutely nothing until they walked into the “your suspended for 5 years” meeting. WKU administration knew it would be almost impossible to overturn a decision once it was already made. If word had gotten out that the Women’s Team was under investigation it would have been stopped and they KNEW IT because there is NO BASIS for their allegations.
        As for the hazing……. you are so quick to judge something for which you know nothing about. Where is that young man’s accountability for HIS actions?
        Also, regarding your statement “Swimming is not a sport like football that brings in revenue”… what does that mean?? Just curious…..

    • avatar
      AvantSwim

      Another example here of blaming the victim…stay classy SwimMomma.

  10. avatar
    non-delinquent swimmer

    It is funny how people love commenting and putting their noses in other people’s lives’ they know nothing about, I guess it must be part of the human nature to act that way. All over the media, I see people commenting on the “board of pictures” which where none of you have ever landed your eyes on. Many condemn the use of bad words on it, prejudiced words. But isn’t that exactly what you are doing by making assumptions on us just by what you heard?

    I like to think that my experience as a swimmer for WKU is a little different than most. I owe that to the fact that I was born and raised in another country, and only came to America to attend to college. My experience is different because since day one, my family wasn’t at a drivable distance like it was for many others, making my teammates the closest thing I had to a family in the U.S.

    And let me tell you, each and every one of those individuals grew on me. Every time I felt homesick, one of these kids you all are calling monsters wrote me a message or brought me sweet treats to cheer me up. Every Thanksgiving break, Fall Break, Spring Break, or even Christmas break, one of these kids you all call delinquents welcomed me into their homes and treated me like I was one of theirs. Every time I struggled in class because of my language barrier, one of them proof read my essays, and taught me better so that I could become a better student. Evidently, my parents could not be present in most swim meets throughout my four years of swimming, but that didn’t make me feel pity for myself because every time I stood up on that block, I saw at least thirty of those “criminals” who I call family ready to yell and cheer for me from the top of their lungs.

    With these kids, I learned to love and admire the U.S. They taught me that real friendships have no cultural or language barriers. To Abby Boone, author of this letter. Like you, “My teammates are my best friends, my future bridesmaids, my study partners and my go-to counselors.” I learned everything I know about this culture with them, and let me tell you…they did a heck of a job! Funny part is that none of these things I learned include topics of hazing, sexual assault and most definitely it does not include forced drugs or alcohol consumption. From my two friends and former teammates who are now Navy Seals, I learned the importance of persistence and hard work. From another teammate, I learned that if you have the possibility to save someone’s life as a bone marrow donor, you should jump on it with no hesitation. From my friend and teammate who graduated with a 4.0 and is now a successful engineer who makes over 100k a year, I learned that I should always have my priorities straight. From my best friend, who I call my sister, I learned that being American or of any other ethnicity is only a matter of geography and does not define character nor integrity.

    Miss Boone, I am glad you had such a great experience in your 2 years of swimming in college, and that this opportunity brought so many great people in your life. For this reason, I would expect you to get angry if anyone dared to insult your best friends, and you just did that to me. As you advised the swimming community to learn from this unfortunate situation, I also find myself in the position to offer you some life advice. As a journalist, a writer, or whatever career you want to pursue, it is always important that you hear both sides of the same story before writing anything about it. That way your opinion doesn’t only come across as more reasonable and persuasive, but it will show that you are a professional and you’re willing to share with the public an unbiased opinion based on facts. But I am sure you will learn all of this by the end of your internship.

    I truly wish you all the best in life, because happy individuals don’t waste their time ruining other people’s lives.

    Sincerely,

    WKU Alumni.

    • avatar
      WKU Swim Mama

      Holy Buckets…. non-delinquent swimmer, your response was perfect, classy and gave me goose bumps. Soooo well said and I can only hope Miss Boone takes the time to read it TWICE and learn from it.
      Thank You !!

  11. avatar
    Ashley L

    Dear disheartened swimmer:

    This is an interesting point of view coming from someone who never swam at WKU. As I read through comments on website stories and social media posts this week, I can’t help but think about how wrong these people are. I also think about how sad it is that others can sit back and talk so awful about a team they know nothing about. I went through college thinking how lucky I was to be apart of this group of people.

    Let me start off by saying this – I was by no means an all-star swimmer. Most of the time I didn’t travel and never swam a conference meet. With that said, I loved every minute of being with these people. These team members are the SOLE reason I had the time of my life at WKU. These “terrible, hazing, drunk, mean and abusing idiots” were my everything.

    You say that your teammates are your best friends, your future bridesmaids, your study partners and go-to counselors. Mine too. The girls and guys I met during my time swimming at WKU are people that I keep in touch with everyday. I developed a relationship with my teammates that can never be matched. If there was anything my teammates were good at, it was taking care of each other. These are the girls that will stand by me at my wedding, these are the guys who stayed up all night studying accounting with me because I didn’t get it. We may live hundreds of miles apart now but there isn’t a single time when I called that they didn’t answer. I always had go to people when I had a bad day, when I got lapped at practice, when something was eating me inside. I always had them to lean on and to make everything better. To assume we weren’t a family and we didn’t worry about each other and love each other is a very ignorant assumption.

    I cried with them, I laughed with them and I absolutely partied with them. I had the time of my life and I can say with certainty that everyone else did too. Which is why ONE person has come forward. No one was holding a gun to anyones head. You don’t like it at WKU? Leave. But no one does. No one forced me to drink, no one forced me to go out on Saturday nights.

    If we (the more than 46 years of swimmers) thought something was so terribly wrong with WKU swimming why is it just now coming up?

    The support system I received while swimming at WKU is something I will forever be grateful for.

    Talk bad about our coaches and how they didn’t do their job. But to tell swimmers that we are a disappointment? That’s really sad. I feel bad for you because we aren’t disappointed in ourselves. We are proud of WKU. We aren’t ashamed. It’s unfortunate that it has come to this but we aren’t ashamed because we know the real story, we lived it and we LOVED it.

    Shame on you for assuming you know us and know WKU swimming.

    Sincerely,
    Former Hilltopper

  12. avatar
    Disappointed reader

    Honestly, I’m extremely surprised and disappointed that Swimming World would allow such a letter to be posted. While it says at the bottom that this does not reflect Swimming World’s views, it still shows that they took the time to read it and approve this letter. This is a world news organization and find this intolerable on so many levels. Credibility is important, and so are facts. Personal views should be left to personal accounts, such as twitter, Facebook, or blogs.

  13. avatar
    Chelsea

    How dare you begin to question and pretend to even know what our teammates meant to us. Those men and women were, and still are, my best friends. They are “my best friends, my future bridesmaids, my study partners and my go-to counselors”, and even so much more. Believe me, we don’t need your lecture on what a team is supposed to be. I am appalled that you would sit on your high horse and act as if Florida Southern and all of your teammates are god-sends and have never done anything wrong. Honestly, you are so far removed from this situation, like everyone else in the world, that you really have no room to pass judgement. But you have and will continue to do so, and I will continue to stand up for the team I committed the best four years of my life to. You say we “forced” all of these things on our teammates, when you don’t even know half of the story. You question our love and care for these people we spent our lives with, without even trying to know who we are. You don’t know these people. You don’t know the coaches. You know just as much about the “party house” and what went on there as you do about the personal lives of the coaches and swimmers who are so deeply affected by this. How dare you sit there and blatantly act like you were there and have first-hand accounts of what went on because you read a report online. How dare you write your letter in your pompous tone, lecturing us as if we are your children unaware of wrongdoing. You have no idea what this has done to the tradition and legacy that has been built for over 30 years. You have no idea how bad this hurts the man who started it all and, at the age of 78, is still actively involved. You have no idea how torn apart the coaches are that are living this and sorting it out hour-by-hour, and will continue to live this for the next week, month, and years to come.

    I am completely aware that action needed to be taken and allegations needed to be investigated. I am not condoning a hazing environment. However, I’m not here to discuss whether the punishment was right or wrong. I believe you are wrong for your arrogance and judgement. I have always been proud to be a swimmer and always felt a special connection with another swimmer when meeting by chance. The swim community is small and tightly knit. You are bonded with other swimmers in a different way – a way you aren’t bonded with others. But today, you broke that bond by acting as if you were better than all of us, and rather than being there to “cheer for you and protect you and pick you up when you fall down” – you kicked us while we were down and walked away. And tonight you will sleep soundly because all is right in your world, and tomorrow we will still wake up strong and bonded together as the WKU Swim Team has always been.

  14. avatar
    Josh

    The swim team is scum and they deserve what they got. 5 years will hopefully wipe them off the face of this campus. Collin is a brave kid and while maybe not so innocent, he did the right thing. More is coming and will be released.

    • avatar
      Well-adjusted WKU Alum

      Everyone, ignore this troll. He is too scared to post under his real name. He has posted under the name Josh, Sally, Tre, and Bill in response to WKU articles on this site.

    • avatar
      WKU Alum

      Damn, Alex, give it up.

  15. avatar
    Frank from WKU

    excuse me? Were you there? Have u read kid whose accusing report? If you knew the kids on the team you’d know this is a farce from an attention hungry child who couldn’t get laid. Plus the uni found a way to save a million dollars. Also, if they were as bad as you make it, how do you get 34 kids onto the cusa commissioner honour roll? How do you get three kids to the NCAA champs? How do you have a swimmer whose now top twenty in the WORLD (that includes outside the U.S. In case you can’t grasp that)? You get this through hard work and tenacity. But if you were an actual journalist you would be able to read through the lines and see this. Looks like someone hasn’t learnt how to think for themselves.

    • avatar
      AvantSwim

      “Looks like someone hasn’t learnt how to think for themselves.”….same can be said for you.

    • avatar
      Justin

      Grow up!

  16. avatar
    Outside Observer

    Really surprised Swimming World would publish something like this. Seems like an intern thought they found a way to jump on the bandwagon shaming some kids she doesn’t know while talking about a situation she assumes to understand from reading the headlines. Maybe she could have just talked about what she actually knows – maybe a piece on her positive experience as a college swimmer. But I guess that wouldn’t get as many views as joining the witch hunt!

  17. avatar

    I resent the statement that the alumni and the current swimmers are not close or are doing nothing.

    WKU swimming has the closest alumni, probably in college sports. Every 4 years ALL of the alumni get together for a weekend. This includes alumni from the very first years that started swimming to recent graduates. They gather to cheer on a home swim meet for the current swimmers and fill Bill Powell Auditorium with cheers and a sea of red shirts. We bring our children and parents with us because we are all a family. After the swim meet you will see the alumni rise and get into bathing suits to have their own meet against each other. We swim against each person that swam during their decade at Western. We swim for bragging rights for the this and the next Alumni meet. We laugh at each other and cheer each other on. Some go into “training” for the meet and others haven’t swam since the last alumni meet. During this meet the current swimmers stay and cheer on our fat butts and praise us for being willing to squeeze into a speedo and they look forward to when they get to be a part of the meet. All the while Coach Powell is announcing the swim meet, telling stories about every swimmer that goes up on the block. We go tailgating at the football game and then head to the game. We then will go out together have drinks and tell stories about our amazing years as Western swimmers. We do this across the decades. We meet the new alumni and we greet the old. We travel across the country to make this and do so looking forward to the next one.

    We are each other bridesmaids, groomsmen, godparents to each other children, best friends. We sing, dance, party, laugh, cry and mourn together. We meet together for playdates with our children and hope that one day they will be able to swim at WKU so they can be part of the family. We raise money for scholarships in honor of our swim coach and in honor of swimmers who have passed on. We do this because we love, respect and honor each other. We are brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers who all swam thousands of miles following a black line on the bottom of the pool together.

    We are grieving and we are grieving together over the loss of our beloved program. We are supporting our amazing Coach Powell who started this program who is our father figure and friend. We are supporting the innocent swimmers that had nothing to do with this and hope that WKU swimming will come back just as strong.

  18. avatar
    Hannah

    So all of you that “went” to WKU and those of you that are just standing up for them anyway are supporters of hazing? Because that’s exactly what this is about. Every person on the team was either hazed, did the hazing, or knew about the hazing. Every single one of them had countless opportunities where they could have stepped up and said something, to anyone. I have heard first hand from Alumni who admitted that everything was true, every single allegation, and you know what, yes, you all can still stand around and say you’re all “family” and how you still “love one another” like you all say, but that just means that you all have the same messed up sense of the bigger picture. HAZING IS A PROBLEM IN COLLEGE ATHLETICS, and WKU’s situation was severe enough where the higher administration decided to do something about it and make an example out of them, and they did the right thing! Every person should be punished wether or not they participated, because they all knew what was going on. Im sure there are Alumni out there who are scarred from their own experiences or ashamed to say that they were apart of what has been brought to light at WKU. What is it going to take for people to get off their high horses and stand up for the actual issue here? This is about hazing and underaged abuse of drinking and drugs, and no one doing anything about it until now. So what’s it going to take? Someone going missing for a week? Someone being sent to the hospital because their heart stopped from all the drugs and alcohol that peer pressured into them? Someone dying??? Stand up for the bigger picture.

    • avatar
      Swimsauce

      You are the definition of a person that drinks the media cool-aid without doing the slightest bit of research on your own. Peer pressure? The dude went and acquired a fake ID so he could purchase alcohol on his own…Also, nothing in the report (if you actually read it) confirmed he was offered drugs. As a matter of fact, 2/3 of his allegations were proven false.

    • avatar
      AvantSwim

      Well said, Hannah. The overwhelming evidence is that most of the team knew what was going on. Knowing with certainty that the captains, upperclassmen and coaches all knew about this activity–and in many cases promoted it since at least 2012–only adds to this evidence of larger complicity. There seems to be many apologists for violence, sexual assault, humiliation, threats and intimidation on this site. I will not hear a bar of this song, and appreciate that you too do not.

  19. avatar
    Shawn

    I have loved Swimming World for as long as I can remember, but the printing of this letter is completely uncalled for. I am a former NCAA swimmer (not at WKU), and the trash that is written in this article has absolutely no factual backing. The fact that you decided to print it (regardless if it is your view or not) makes me second-guess coming to this website. You are turning swimming into a political forum on what’s right and wrong… I could go to MSNBC or Fox News if I wanted that.

    • avatar
      AvantSwim

      This is not an article–it is an editorial.

    • avatar
      Swimalum

      Very well said!!

  20. avatar
    WKU Alum

    Allow me to retitle:

    • avatar
      WKU Alum

      “An Open Letter to People I’ve Never Met, In a Place I’ve Never Been, Regarding a Topic on Which I Have No Relevant Information”

  21. avatar
    Brittany

    I, like other commenters, am very disappointed that this article was even published. I always thought journalism included investigation and proving facts, not reading headlines + a police report that all show ONE SIDE to a story and then writing something like this, something that is attempting to shame 50+ current WKU swimmers and 100’s of alumni. I am just glad to know that Florida Southern swimmers, or any swimmers you know, do not drink until the moment they turn 21…otherwise your attempted crucification of WKU swimmers in this letter isn’t justified. You are 100% entitled to your opinion whether it’s backed by facts or not, but as a former WKU swimmer I completely agree with your sentiments about teammates and family. I experienced them too. My 4 years at WKU were never lacking in support from my teammates or coaches. They were there to pick me up and to push me when I needed it. Like a commenter said above, swimming is such a tight-knit community and for you to start a letter treating us like we are 3 years old and got our hand caught in the cookie jar and the rest of the swimming world is an angry mother- is completely uncalled for. “Are you upset? Angry? Despondent?” HELL YES we are. But you know what else, Abby? We are PROUD to walk around campus/wherever with our WKU swimming t-shirts on and we are PROUD to put that we swam 4 years at a Division 1 university. Because we have a bond that no one can break, no matter how many people try to tear us down. Try telling me that came from an environment where “we didn’t support or care for each other”.

    • avatar
      A Reader

      As has previously been said… This is an OPINION piece. Everyone is entitled to their OWN OPINION. You don’t have to agree with said opinion, but you do have to respect the writer of the opinion piece. you just like every other moron who has commented and said “Shame on you Swimming World” needs to go to journalism 101 and learn the difference between OPINION and a News article. Learn what your talking about here: http://www.antrimreview.net/opinion/sidebar/article_19ebfb2e-0d8a-11e2-a4d4-0019bb30f31a.html.

      • avatar
        Brittany

        A reader,

        Thank you so much for pointing out the error of my ways and insulting me in the process. Oh, and it’s “you’re”, by the way.

  22. avatar
    AvantSwim

    Abby Boone, BRAVO! Thank you so much for your comments and courage. I appreciate that you, unlike many others, are unwilling to apologize for the sickening culture of violence and illegal behaviour that was allowed to fester under the coaching squad, team captains and upperclassmen. The moral landslide implicit (and in many cases explicit) in many of the comments above only reinforces the power and necessity of your words.

    The leadership not only failed this team but is solely responsible for the 5-year penalty. Where is the outrage for these people? Instead many of the commenters choose to shoot the messenger, or even the student who came forward. Of course this reaction is always the typical defensive position of those who fail to accept or understand the complicit nature of team dynamics and pack mentality, and those who prefer the status quo. I wrote earlier that a three-year ban would have been more appropriate in my eyes–dating back to the point where the head coach learned of systemic hazing and criminally failed to do anything. Nonetheless, the team clearly needs to clean house. Taxpayers should not have to have any of this disgusting behavior on their conscience…or on their dime.

  23. avatar
    Disappointed

    Shame on Swimming World for printing this letter. The author has seen no evidence and does not know these 50 swimmers and divers, who was interviewed, or what was proven and to what level. There is a great deal still unknown about why the penalty was so harsh. University politics is always at play in decisions that are disproportionate and inconsistent with other penalties against other campus organizations that have had major offenses. No legitimate publication should allow someone in their employ to publish such a one-sided, judgmental, and uninformed letter. Shame on you for not allowing the WKU Swim and Dive team the rights they deserve to defend themselves before judging each and every one. To the author, I hope people are kinder to you if you ever make a misstep.

  24. avatar
    Josh

    I think it’s funny that no one has actually come out (coaches) and said it didn’t happen lol they just say they are shocked it’s 5 years. Guilty.

  25. avatar
    Swimalum

    This is an embarrassment to Swimming World. I am so disappointed that this was printed to belittle kids that you don’t even know, in a situation you know nothing about. The media story has been completely one-sided and WKU has cut two other teams for budget in the past 10 years. This is just a way that they found to cut another one without getting as much backlash for it. The majoroty of the accusations in the email were false which is why the only criminal charge the police could issue was a minor pot charge. Seems a little too fishy to me. You should probably gather more information before writing a letter like this.

  26. avatar
    SwimJuice

    This article was uncalled for. Shaming the members of a team that was dissolved within a month of a school closing? Disgraceful. I feel terrible for those incoming students who were left out of their school. Our coaching staff has been as accommodating as possible in finding us new homes. A lot of us may have lost the chance to compete at the caliber that WKU provided, while some will be able to move on to bigger and better programs.

    I agree that hazing is not acceptable. But that is the only justifiable charge that Collin Craig has made, and it’s one incident carried out by only a few members who were removed from the team as the investigation began. He was excited for parties, he frequently asked for alcohol, he was excited to be a part of the team, or so we thought.

    The problem with this situation is that he never expressed unhappiness or dislike with the team. He was more than willing to be a part of it. Those team members that took it too far were removed from the program when the situation came to light. And there were no objections to it, because our team knew that what they did was unacceptable and unfitting of our program.

    Collin Craig never spoke with other team members about his dislike of any event, nor to the captains, nor the coaching staff, nor the school administration. He showed no sign of unhappiness to any member of the team. He said nothing about not returning to school the next semester. Rather, he decided to bring charges against the team after almost a month of being home.

    I will not defend the actions of those few who did indeed violate the rules. That was wrong and should be dealt with. But much of the team was unaware of the event until well after it had occured. Everything else in the Title XI report was not proven to be true, but they don’t deal with absolute evidence. They deal with things they deem could have happened beyond a reasonable doubt. This is why no criminal charges were filed against members of the team besides those who had illegal drug material in their rooms.

    It was an easy decision to cut the program. Rumors had been around for a few years that swimming and diving would be cut to make way for a bigger budget. WKU gets the chance to cut a program, increase funding for other sports, and look good in the process? Simple decision.

    The women’s team suspension was absolutely a shock to everyone, and that was a terrible thing to see happen. There was never a warning or hint of possibility for that to occur. While myself and the rest of the men’s team had some idea of what would happen, the women’s team was blind-sided by the school.

    I can only assume that your vast experience with this topic from your school in Florida helped you right this article. An outsiders perspective only sees the most sensational and far-fetched report that is released. What occurred here at Western is not unique to this school. The only difference being that instead of the athlete talking with the members or coaching staff of the team to rectify the situation they decided to bypass them and handle it themselves with a police force.

    He didn’t want to change the program to make it better and fix things. He wanted to punish those who he felt wronged him regardless of the fate of the program. He knew he wasn’t coming back, so why bother to care for those who had thought of him as a teammate and family? I had no problem with Collin Craig, and he had no problem with me. I was never a part of his “hazing” or “assault” allegations. He was a part of my swim team family. But that doesn’t much matter now, as he took the entire ship down with him.

    • avatar
      Alumni

      THIS COMMENT^^^^ if any of you would LISTEN to these kids you’ll realize that they are reasonable and that this kid made the situation sound MUCH worse than it actually was!! Do I agree with hazing? No. Do I agree with falsely accusing innocent swimmers? No. This university wanted to save money, plain and simple. There are TWO sides to every story!

  27. avatar
    Guest

    I am finding this interesting…

    A swimmer from WKU admitting there was hazing. Then the problem wasn’t the hazing per se but that the swimmer who came forward was the problem by reporting it after he participated. If there wasn’t any hazing, there wouldn’t be anything to report.

    Your team would still be swimming.

    Simple solution – don’t haze!

    • avatar
      SwimJuice

      Yes, and 90% of all college programs have some form of hazing involved. Unfortunately what occurred here was done by only a few and without everyone’s knowledge. Those members were removed by the coaching staff once it had been discovered.
      The problem faced here is that he had never voiced concern of his unhappiness and in fact seemed to enjoy what he occurred. If he didn’t enjoy it, he wouldn’t have gone out. Now a program was eliminated because of it.
      And you cannot say “don’t haze” as if it’s that simple. Any unfairness or hierarchy upon a team fits under the definition of “hazing”. Freshman sit at the front of the bus, they have their equipment away from the rest of the team, they pick up equipment, they clean up after the team or eat last. That all fits under that big umbrella.
      I’m sorry that about what happened to him and that he didn’t like it, I really am. He could have talked to any one of us about what went on and said he felt uncomfortable, but he didn’t. Instead he waited back and compiled a very large (and sometimes exaggerated) timeline of events that spanned the entire semester.

      If he shows every sign of wanting to drink, wanting to party, wanting to be a part of the social life that was the swim team, why would anyone think that maybe he doesn’t like it?

      • avatar
        Guest

        “90% of all college programs have some form of hazing involved.”
        If the is true, that is a sad state of affairs; and it does not excuse the fact there was hazing on this team. Try everyone does it when you run a red light and get pulled over by the police and ticketed.

        “Unfortunately what occurred here was done by only a few and without everyone’s knowledge.”
        Enough people knew and did nothing – including the coaches.

        “The problem faced here is that he had never voiced concern of his unhappiness and in fact seemed to enjoy what he occurred.”
        The problem is the team hazed. End of story.

        “If he didn’t enjoy it, he wouldn’t have gone out.”
        Victim blaming.

        “Now a program was eliminated because of it.”
        Now a program was eliminated because the team hazed.

        “And you cannot say “don’t haze” as if it’s that simple. Any unfairness or hierarchy upon a team fits under the definition of “hazing”. Freshman sit at the front of the bus, they have their equipment away from the rest of the team, they pick up equipment, they clean up after the team or eat last. That all fits under that big umbrella.”
        Yes, I can say don’t haze. It is that simple. Sitting at the front of the bus, equipment, cleaning, eating last, etc. wasn’t the issue here;and you know it. Even if it was the issue, how is any of that building a team? Obviously the bus placement, cleaning, etc. wasn’t enough. Every year hazing has to be worse than the next. It all starts somewhere. Maybe it started with eating last, but it certainly didn’t end there.

        Did you love being hazed? Every last minute of it? Stop and think about that.

        Stop blaming someone who came forward. Your team hazed. They continued to haze year after year. On some level you had to know it was wrong. You cannot blame anyone else but yourselves. If a group of you got together who knew it was wrong and drew strength from each other to end it, you could have stopped the hazing. It is that simple. As a team you are supposed to work together, aren’t you? How is hazing working together when it produces this result? There is no team now for five years.

  28. avatar
    Jojo

    Very disappointing that this made it to print. The facts of what did and did not take place are unclear at best. Someone reported that Bruce knew of something that happened in 2012, we do not know what Bruce knew or what his response to it was. Let’s be fair to him and not imply wrong doing on his part. The swimmers on the 2014-2015 team are very close and are suffering a great deal from their loss. If a few boys engaged in behavior that was questionable and were suspended from the team, Isn’t that enough? Administration took a brush stroke approach and hurt a lot of innocent swimmers. It should be noted that when parties were thrown at the house in question, members from other university sports teams were there. Colin had several good friends on the team and never confided in one of them that he was unhappy or feeling uncomfortable, why would this be the case? There is no burden of proof for the allegations that were made yet assumptions are being made and innocent student athletes are continuing to be slandered. Shameful!!!!

    • avatar
      guest

      If you think a young man is going to tell his brand new teammates who were hazed as well he was unhappy or uncomfortable, how do you think that would go? Do you really think they would all rally around him? No.

      If there was not any proof, the school would not have suspended the program. Imagine the lawsuits if they had no proof!

      Schools don’t make those types of assumptions.

      What is shameful is how this team behaved and how the coaches did nothing.

      That is what is shameful!

      • avatar
        WKU Alum

        Guest,
        Did you not see the follow-up article in Swimming World where the kid who alleged these mis-deeds was shown to have greatly exaggerated and in some cases completely fabricated his charges?

Author: Abby Boone

avatar
Abby Boone is an English major at Florida Southern College, and has spent two years on an NCAA Division II swim team in Lakeland. Before heading off to college, she trained at Cardinal Aquatics and Triton Swimming.

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