Sean Hutchison Resigns From FAST Amid Controversial Rumors

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.