Penn State swimmers say they were bullied by coaches, report says

  • Penn State swimming coaches have been accused of bullying and mistreating athletes.
  • Head coach Tim Murphy and assistant Steve Barnes are the coaches in question.
  • Reports of the mistreatment were reported by

Penn State is again investigating reports of coaches bullying and mistreating athletes, according to a report by

This time, it's the swimming team that's in question.

Tim Murphy

According to PennLive, one female swimmer said she was mocked at practice this spring by head coach Tim Murphy and assistant Steve Barnes. She said she sought help from psychologists after coaches refused to speak with her about critiques.

The report goes on to detail accounts from two other female swimmers. One said she went home crying after coaches berated her in front of the team, while the other said she felt "blindsided" when coaches cut her from the team and told her she wasn't committed to the sport.

All three athletes, who spoke to PennLive on condition of anonymity, said they often sought feedback to improve but were shut down.

These recent claims bear similarities to allegations from athletes brought against then-Penn State women's hockey Josh Brandwene last year, and against the women's gymnastic coaches in 2016. Gymnastics head coach Jeff Thompson was fired in February 2017, while his wife, assistant coach Rachelle Thompson, resigned in June 2016. Brandwene retired last April, a year after The Daily Collegian reported he bullied his players.

Penn State integrity officer Bob Boland began investigating the swimmers' claims earlier this month, according to emails obtained by PennLive. In an email sent to a swimmer's parents, PennLive said Boland said they had "credibly raised concerns" but that "no findings or conclusions can be made at this point in time."

In a statement released to PennLive, Penn State confirmed that Boland is investigating the swimmers' claims, and affirmed its commitment to its athletes.

"We are driven first and foremost by the welfare of our student-athletes, and always consider thoroughly each and every issue brought to our attention," the statement read. "Every day, the (Intercollegiate Athletics) staff is dedicated to providing the resources necessary to create conditions for success to balance the rigors of high expectations in the classroom and in competition."

Murphy took the reins of Penn State's men's and women's swimming and diving teams in 2013, after successful stints at Harvard and with USA Swimming. Barnes joined the team as an assistant coach with Murphy in 2013.