San Jose State Settles Suit, Formally Apologizes to Swim Coach Sage Hopkins

San Jose State Settles Suit, Formally Apologizes to Swim Coach Sage Hopkins

It’s taken more than a decade, but San Jose State swim coach Sage Hopkins has attained a level of vindication in a long-running saga with the school. The long-time swim coach and the university settled a retaliation suit, the conditions of which included a formal apology by the university to Hopkins for his “steadfast commitment to student-athlete health and welfare.”

The announcement was made quietly on Sunday by the university. It stems from allegations first brought to the university’s attention in 2009 by Hopkins, after as many as 17 swimmers on the SJSU team alleged that trainer Scott Shaw had touched them inappropriately and abused his access to female student-athletes.

It ends a protracted affair in which San Jose State finds itself in the wrong in numerous capacities but which has finally brought resolution to the parties involved.

From the letter:

We thank Coach Hopkins for the courage he demonstrated advocating for the safety of SJSU student-athletes and his perseverance in reporting the mistreatment of student-athletes by former SJSU Athletics Trainer, Scott Shaw. His efforts spurred a robust resolution agreement that strengthened the university’s Title IX program and helped build a better environment in which all members of the community feel safe and free from retaliation. We are also deeply sorry that Coach Hopkins’ advocacy was not heard and acted upon earlier. His difficult path involved great personal sacrifice. On behalf of our community, we thank him for his commitment to doing the right thing. We are pleased that Coach Hopkins has agreed to continue in his leadership role with the same unwavering courage moving forward.

First and foremost, as Hopkins said in his first public comments on the matter to the San Jose Mercury News in September, it is about the athletes. Hopkins brought forth swimmers’ allegations in 2009 to the university, but Shaw was cleared by an internal investigation in 2010.

More victims came forward, and Hopkins resubmitted the case to the school’s Title IX office in 2018. When that report disappeared, as the Mercury News reports, he filed the same documentation to the NCAA in 2019. That spurred a larger investigation, against the backdrop of other high-profile allegations of sexual misconduct by athletic trainers, that gained traction and was taken over by the California State University System’s Title IX office in 2020. The Department of Justice has also probed the university’s handling of the complaints.

Shaw was allowed to remain at the university until August 2020, leading to allegations from victims up until February of that year. He is under criminal investigation by the FBI but has not been charged with a crime.

The university has compensated a total of 28 victims via two court settlements totaling $4.9 million. Athletic director Marie Tuite and president Mary Papazian both stepped down in the wake of the scandal.

Through all of this, Hopkins has remained the coach of the Trojans’ swim team since 2006. Last April, he filed a retaliation suit against the university and Tuite. Hopkins received a $225,000 payment as part of the settlement, a transition into management (while still coaching) and the formal and public apology. Hopkins described the terms of the agreement as “amicable.”

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Lisa Hanf
4 months ago

Coach Hopkins & the SJSU Spartan swim team
has had to deal with lack of support from the AD,
Athletic Training, & the Spartan Community at
San Jose State. These young ladies that were
Athletes from 2009 – 2020 are what true courage
is about. Every athlete/ team at any high school,
College & club team athlete deserves to be
respected. Spartan Up