By: Mia David
In May of 2022, the University of California- Berkeley started an ongoing investigation, and coach Teri McKeever was sent on administrative leave. McKeever is under investigation for verbal and emotional abuse and promoting a toxic culture on the University of California- Berkeley women’s swim team.
A report from the Orange County Register was published with interviews from 19 female swimmers, 1 swimmer from the men’s team, and 6 parents. The report claimed that she has been abusing swimmers for decades now.
Teri McKeever is known as the first female to be the head coach of an Olympic team in the 2012 London Olympics. She has coached the Cal team to 4 NCAA championships and has won the Pac-12 coach of the year award 9 times.
The investigation has lasted longer than anyone expected it to. The athletic director at Berkeley released a statement when the investigation started saying it should last no more than 6 months. However, the investigation has lasted almost 9 months at this point.
McKeever’s lawyer has raised the question of whether or not Dave Burden (Berkeley’s head coach for the men’s team) also acts the way McKeever is being accused of acting. He has claimed that McKeever’s coaching offended people because she is a woman, and they expect her to be more kind and motherly than a men’s coach.
According to Swim Swam News, when asked about the name-calling and bullying of swimmers, McKeever’s lawyer claimed they misunderstood what she was saying.
Over the past couple of months, multiple former swimmers and coaches have sent letters to Berkeley to support Teri McKeever. Many coaches have expressed that this is simply gender bias and that the girls targeting McKeever are looking for attention.
According to Swim Swam News, a former coach from Princeton, Susan Teeter, said, “As a women’s coach, I have seen years of immature athletes who take on the role of ‘mean girls’ and become toxic and hateful, which is what I believe we have on our hands right now.”
People have expressed that the problem is not McKeever, but it is, in fact, an administrative problem. It is unlikely that Berkeley will address an administrative issue right now. Still, they have hired a law firm to investigate McKeever. Dave Durden has been coaching the men’s team but has overtaken both teams in McKeever’s absence.