Greg Rhodenbaugh, Former Missouri Swim Coach, Cleared of All Title IX Charges

greg-rhodenbaugh-missouri
Greg Rhodenbaugh (center) has been cleared of any Title IX violations. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Missouri swimming coach Greg Rhodenbaugh has been cleared of any violations of Title IX. The university closed the investigation last week.

The investigation involved alleged discrimination of female swimmers in the program and was brought to the university by one of the swimmers.

Rhodenbaugh was placed on paid administrative leave while the University investigated allegations related to team management issues within the Tiger programs, stated Mizzou Director of Athletics Jim Sterk.

Andrew Grevers replaced Rhodenbaugh, who served as Mizzou’s head swimming and diving coach since being named to the position on May 5, 2010, until being placed on administrative leave last October. In accordance with the terms of his contract, Rhodenbaugh was reassigned from his coaching position.

Vox Populi Communications sent the following after the decision:

After a comprehensive, nine-month investigation of University of Missouri Head Swimming and Diving Coach Greg Rhodenbaugh for violations of Title IX involving alleged “team mismanagement”, the University officially closed the investigation last week without any findings of wrong-doing.

Under Rhodenbaugh’s nine-year tenure, the MIZZOU swimming program went from the bottom of the Big 12 Conference to a SEC national swimming powerhouse. In 2016 and 2017, the Tiger Men’s program finished top Ten at NCAA Championships with the Women finishing in the top 15 both years. Rhodenbaugh’s and his assistants were subsequently acknowledged as one of swimming’s top coaching staffs and in 2017 Rhodenbaugh was voted Coach of the Year by the University’s Athletic Department.

Over the nine years of Rhodenbaugh’s coaching, the Tigers turned out dozens of All-Americans, National Champions, National Team members and a World Champion. In fact, when the allegations surfaced in 2018, Mizzou had just negotiated a five-year extension of Rhodenbaugh’s contract.

The official closing of the investigation was issued late Wednesday, July 3rd, before the July 4th weekend. The notice followed Rhodenbaugh’s retention of former USA Swimming defense attorney Gregory A. Anderson, who notified the university’s General Counsel’s office that after nine months of waiting, Rhodenbaugh was filing suit for defamation of character, termination without notice or cause and other theories. Anderson alleged the never-ending investigation was intentionally interfering with negotiations between Rhodenbaugh and another premier Division 1 university to become its head coach for the 2019-2020 season.

During the nine months of investigation, Andy Hirth, Rhodenbaugh’s local attorney made repeated demands for Mizzou to disclose the factual basis for the allegations against him, to complete its investigation in a timely manner as required by university rules and to hold a hearing for Rhodenbaugh to present evidence in his own defense as guaranteed under his contract.

Anderson told the university that  “…while I’ve reviewed allegations of misconduct against any number of coaches over the past thirty years, these allegations remain some of the most perplexing… We reviewed the statements of the athletes involved and noted the complete absence of anything that could be termed ’factual’. It was hard to even understand why an official investigation was held.”

Anderson concluded by noting, “Far from discriminatory, Coach Rhodenbaugh’s statements encouraged his swimmers to overcome hardships and make good choices in their lives…swimming is an extremely difficult sport in terms of the physical and mental demands on the athletes.  Encouraging your swimmers to overcome obstacles is not discriminatory.”

During the investigation, countless former and current swimmers came forward to support Rhodenbaugh. Annie Grevers who swam for Rhodenbaugh during his tenure at Arizona and is the sister-in-law of current MIZZOU head coach Andy Grevers and wife of Olympian Matt Grevers, said, “This is a man perpetuating good. He’s one of the most respected, empathetic men in college coaching.” As the investigation went on, numerous athletes were recruited to corroborate the allegations and instead refuted them. Not a single assistant coach, most of who were there on the deck during the supposed discrimination, supported the allegations. One assistant coach, Kristen Pritchett, who coached with Rhodenbaugh from 2013 through 2016 -when some of the supposedly discriminatory statements were made- said,”…[H]is [Rhodenbaugh’s] demeanor was the same with all of his athletes, regardless of their performance capabilities, gender, race or sexual orientation. Never once did I hear him yell, demean or belittle an athlete….” Nearly 300 past swimmers and coaches across the nation wrote the university in support of Rhodenbaugh.

However, under Mizzou Title IX rules, the accused is not allowed to defend him or herself. Calling defense witnesses or even cross-examining the accusers is considered “oppressive” and not permitted.  But even if a defense were allowed, there would be no forum to do so: “The Mizzou Title IX department doesn’t allow a formal hearing on the charges” Anderson explained,  “…it is a system laden with confirmation bias at its core.

“There was no due process” Anderson concluded, “It was only when we made clear our plan to challenge these procedures in federal court that the Title IX director’s enthusiasm evaporated.”

When asked about the allegations brought against him, Rhodenbaugh responded,  “I was stunned. In my 34 years of coaching collegiate athletes, I think everyone I coached recognized that I deeply care about them and would do anything to help them achieve their goals and dreams – in the pool and out. My assistant coaches and I were the strongest advocates for sixty swimmers. From the sidelines, I encouraged the swimmers to stay focused on their goals and to not get sidetracked by all this.”

When asked about his experience at Mizzou, Rhodenbaugh stated,

“I came to MIZZOU nine years ago to invest in the lives of young men and women who came here to swim and to build a top ten swimming and diving program and we did that. Along the way, I have always been conscious of the personal needs and academic goals of my student-athletes. While building a top team was incredible, that goal never outweighed my desire to help my athletes personally grow as they work through life issues. The other coaches and I know that being part of an SEC D1 swim program is challenging and transitioning from high school to college is tough. We were always conscious of the total well-being of the athletes and I am sorry that a few athletes didn’t realize the depth of care that all of the coaches had for them.”

When asked about the ordeal finally coming to an end, Rhodenbaugh stated,

” As I have stated before, the men and women who came here to swim under our coaching team were part of an incredible story of building a swimming powerhouse and I am proud of every one of them. Leaving the swimmers here will be tough, but I am excited for my next coaching opportunity so that I can get back to my passion for helping young women and men achieve their dreams and aspirations at the highest level.”

40 comments

  1. avatar
    Swim3057

    Clears the way for him to be new SMU head Mens coach

    • avatar
      Leslie Kehr

      My thoughts exactly! They have that beautiful new pool now too! I’m a Mizzou grad, and this is a great loss for Mizzou, but my daughter attended SMU, so if they get him, they are fortunate indeed. He’s the real deal–a true class act and man of integrity.

  2. Lisa Cary Zubar

    He is an amazing coach and I am so happy my daughter was able to thrive with him as a coach. I am so sad that Gregvand his family have been affected by this. He is a fair person that holds students accountable and does not play games.

    • avatar
      Anonymous

      I’m glad your child had a good experience. Mine did not. He was very rude and blamed my child for many things. Yelled and laughed and ignored. I have also heard stories of what happened to some of the ladies and I’m shocked my child stayed for so long.

      • avatar

        I am sorry that your daughter had a rough experience at Mizzou. Perhaps there is more to the story than what you have been told, and I would caution you about believing hearsay. In fact, it was rumors that started this unnecessary fire storm.

      • avatar
        Anonymous

        It wasn’t rumors! Rhody really did hurt me and many others on the team. So maybe you shouldn’t listen to the hearsay that he’s such an innocent guy

    • avatar
      Anonymous

      Didn’t your child swim for Jack…not Greg

      • avatar
        Nick

        Greg wins again!

    • avatar
      Anonymous

      Perhaps you should ask your daughter what really happened…liar and bully. Protected and supported by rhody. A girl on the team suffered and while she didn’t want to say anything on the matter I will!

  3. Tom Sacco

    Good man, good family and good coach. Glad it’s finally over!

  4. Jim Richardson

    The University of Michigan had to change its gender based misconduct policy. I trust Missouri will do the same. Congratulations Greg!

  5. avatar
    Jodi Jones

    I am so happy this is over and Rode has been cleared! Our daughter swam under him and the rest of the coaching staff and this past year was very difficult for all involved. Greg has never been less than straight forward and encouraging to our daughter even if it meant not giving the popular answer. He is a Christian who lives his life truthfully. We will greatly miss he and Lisa but wish them the absolute best wherever they land! MIZ…ZOU!!!

  6. avatar
    Anonymous

    This pisses me off

  7. avatar
    Anonymous

    Me as well. I know countless girls on the team and heading their stories upsets me

    • avatar
      Onceaswimmer...

      If it was that rampant how then was he cleared, seemingly completely cleared? Findings were “to the contrary” and he was not permitted to offer a defense? We’re these women not interviewed? Did they not come forward? You are painting a picture of toxicity that was not uncovered as part of an investigation. Was the process completely flawed or were the accusations/rumors unfounded????

      • avatar
        Anonymous

        If you read the swim swam article written it shows that this article is completely false! He wasn’t cleared and he had ample opportunities to defend himself

  8. Paul Murphy

    I hear you Glenn. I’m sure he will be on deck soon

  9. avatar

    We are so proud our son swam for coach Rhody at Missouri! He was an excellent coach with high standards and great moral character. May God bless him and his family as they move on to another school. Sorry that MIZZOU didn’t keep a great man and coach but that’s their loss and someone else gain.

  10. avatar

    Come on U of A grab this one up!!!

  11. avatar
    Sam

    It’s about time that this investigation has closed. As well as coming to the results that we all knew to be true. It’s a shame that someone as outstanding as Greg had to undergo his name and character being dragged through the mud in such a way that it was.

  12. avatar
    Kurt W

    Very happy to hear this for Greg. Much luck going forward.

  13. avatar
    Anonymous

    “Encouraging your swimmers to overcome obstacles is not discriminatory”. Division 1 swimming is no joke and if you can’t handle the pressure and standards don’t play the sport. Your coach is not your baby sitter they are there to push you to improve. If you can’t handle it quit, don’t make it other peoples problems too.

  14. avatar
    Anonymous

    We had two daughters who faced different challenges. With both, Coach Rodenbaugh supported them equally and demonstrated his primary interest was their well being. As a lifelong advocate of women’s sports, I’m very thankful for Title IX, but appalled at what the Mizzou leadership allowed. Unfortunate, embarrassing and desperately in need of change.

    • avatar
      Coach Jim A

      Amen.

  15. avatar
    Mizzou Alum

    I recently graduated from Mizzou and swam under Rhody for 4 years… I know the women that came forward with these accusations and they were all the type of athlete that blames others for their short comings. Those that have competed in high level athletics know the type of athlete I am talking about. These accusers are people that weren’t prepared to compete at a high level anywhere. Rhody didn’t take this team to the level it is today by sheer luck. He held all of us to a higher standard and pushed us to heights we wouldn’t have been able to reach with out him. Let’s not forget this is a D1 sport, you receive a scholarship to be a part of this team… In football, basketball, volleyball, etc coaches scream and get in your face…. that is much “worse” than anything Rhody ever did to hold us accountable. At the end of the day these athletes couldn’t handle the heat and instead of getting out of the kitchen they burned it down.

    • avatar
      Anonymous

      I’m guessing you don’t 100% know who did and didn’t come forward. Woman from multiple years came forward. And bringing a team towards success doesn’t magically make him a good person. It’s rude to talk bad about your previous teammates. YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM.

      • avatar
        Kurt W

        I’ll take the word of a four-year Mizzou alum who swam for Greg for four years, over somebody who is speculating, and posting under “anonymous“. Crawl back under your rock.

    • avatar
      Anonymous

      Sounds like you may have been one of his favorites. It’s hard to see what’s at the surface when you’re so high up on the pedestal. So stop saying your teammates were wrong. I’m sure they loved your lack of support…

    • avatar
      Anonymous

      How do you know anonymous isn’t an alum

      • avatar
        Kurt W

        Since they’re anonymous, they’re literally nobody. If you’re going to make an accusation, put your name to it.

      • avatar
        Anonymous

        Hey Kurt…Mizzou Alum didn’t provide a name…they too could be a random person

      • avatar
        Kurt W

        When someone posts under “anonymous” and starts their comment with “I’m guessing….” well, you can draw your own conclusions.

    • avatar
      Anonymous

      It’s funny you say that because most if not all of the girls who came forward were very successful! They didn’t fall under pressure…

  16. avatar
    Fan of Greg!

    I went to school with Greg at SMU and know his family well. He is a wonderful leader, coach, father and husband. We need more examples like Greg in this world. I used to think highly of University of Missouri, but the way they have poorly handled this investigation colors their reputation. Greg needs to be allowed to move to a new coaching job with a school that can truly appreciate his value. University of Missouri doesn’t deserve him!

  17. avatar
    Sally Mercke

    Coach Rody was an awesome coach. My daughter had a fantastic experience swimming for him and his wonderful staff. We wish him great success in the future!

  18. avatar
    Anonymous

    While i understand that coach helped the program accomplish many things, these facts don’t make him a good person. No coach should send out emails telling you what movies you can and can’t go watched, no coach should share his/her political views with the team, no coach should tell multiple athletes that anxiety and depression are simply calls for attention, no coach should give his/her stance on gay marriage, and no coach should ever talk about how rape is the woman’s fault. I understand he was a good coach but he was not a good person.

    • avatar

      are you willing to provide copies of these emails to back your claims?

  19. avatar
    Cincinnati Swimmer

    It’s about time! I swam for Mizzou before Greg arrived, that team had issues back then and definitely has them now. Coach Rhodenbaugh is the best thing that’s ever happened to Mizzou, he’s made them into a swimming powerhouse. Cincinnati stands behind him and everything his family represents!

  20. avatar
    Matt

    Does any one else have an issue with SW just posting a PR firm’s press release as their story on this? Where’s the reporting? Where’s Mizzou’s statement? Where’s the link showing evidence that GR was actually *cleared* of Title IX violations? Where’s the link to the charges themselves? Heck, where’s a link to any piece of evidence/information that isn’t just another SW article?