ESPN’s Greg Winslow Coach-From-Hell Story Inexplicably Not Tied to Congressional Investigation of USA Swimming

Published December 24th, 2013, Uncategorized

by Irvin Muchnick

ESPN’s Outside the Lines on Sunday aired its long-anticipated investigative package on monster fired University of Utah swim coach Greg Winslow. Correspondent Steve Delsohn and the producers worked hard for half a year before finally getting clearance for what might be OTL’s least-watched episode of the year — on a program already consigned to a test-pattern-signal 8 a.m. Sunday Eastern time slot on ESPN 2. (Journalism industry hand-wringers note that OTL is expected to be restored to a decent and stable slot after the Super Bowl.)

The result is far from a hash. Within ESPN’s carefully circumscribed limits, which I’ll get to, the Winslow story is well chronicled. OTL has on-camera accusations by his former abused teen club swimmer Whitney Lopus, and by lead Utah dissident Austin Fiascone and other whistleblower swimmers and parents. They are all made more credible by their numerosity and by the refusal of the Ute administration — especially disgraced athletic director Chris Hill — to comment on charges that it ignored complaints and covered up Winslow’s wide-ranging misdeeds for years.

This will support the several lawsuits the school is likely to be defending. At least some litigation will unfold despite what OTL generously labels an “independent report.” That report, commissioned by the university trustees and about as independent as a crutch, halfway supported the accusers’ accounts while letting Hill keep his job.

The ESPN package would have been improved by the addition of a “Mike Wallace” moment in which Delsohn and crew confronted Hill — rather than simply recycling a press conference clip in which the AD lamely admitted he “should have done better.” But what do I know about the ways of television?

The report also covers Winslow’s near-indictment for molesting Lopus across a period of years when he coached the Sun Devil Aquatics youth club, on the Arizona State University campus, and was an assistant under former ASU head coach (and still Sun Devil Aquatics owner) Mike Chasson. But there are also curious omissions.

ESPN mentions neither Chasson nor wife Jill Johnson Chasson, a former swimmer who is now a Phoenix lawyer. Until earlier this year, Jill Chasson was chair of USA Swimming’s National Board of Review, which hears coach misconduct charges. Jill first recused herself from any possible Winslow investigation by the national sport governing body (we know of none in progress), then resigned after Concussion Inc. revealed that she, herself, had had a borderline statutory-rape relationship with her own club coach, John Cadigan, who 30 years later is still the majordomo at the North Baltimore Aquatic Club. In addition, the Chassons’ marriage, after Mike coached Jill at Stanford, raises the “groomed or not groomed?” issue in swimming: the No. 1-A stablemate to the No. 1 prevalence of blatant child rape.

Further, the Baltimore club for which Jill first swam was founded by Hall of Fame coach Murray Stephens, who has gone underground after allegations of his own abuse surfaced, yet still owns the Meadowbrook Aquatic Center, from which he continues to collect more than half a million dollars a year in NBAC rent. And, of course, NBAC is the swimming home of Michael Phelps and his coach Bob Bowman. And Bowman is a proud protégé of Paul Bergen, the long-ago-exposed rapist of Olympic gold medalist Deena Deardurff Schmidt. This month’s 15th junior international swim meet in Oregon, hosted by the Tualatin Hills Swim Club of Linck Bergen, Paul’s son, was the first not to be named in honor of Paul Bergen.

I march through these missing elements not to beat up on OTL for routine choices in the interest of time and editorial economy and clarity, but because the list of gaps concludes with an indefensible one: ESPN’s failure to inform viewers that at the same time the Utah trustees were taking equivocal account of the disastrous Winslow, USA Swimming was coming under investigation by Congressman George Miller, ranking minority member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. More recently Miller’s work has been endorsed by both Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici of Oregon, Miller’s committee colleague, and Congressman Mike Honda, Miller’s California delegation colleague.

To be clear, the biggest voice in broadcast sports-and-occasional-journalism was not otherwise shy about linking its Winslow story to larger themes. In the introduction to and wrap-up of the taped report (the latter included an interview with the Women’s Sports Foundation’s Nancy Hogshead-Makar), anchor Bob Ley twice took the opportunity to tout his own program for busting another famed sex-abusing coach, Mitch Ivey, more than 20 years ago, and to wonder why the swimming authorities didn’t ban him until this fall.

My two-part answer is not flattering to the worldwide leader in worldwide leadering. It took two decades to ban Ivey because OTL did no effective follow-up. Also because the Damoclean sword of Congress now hovers over swimming — and ESPN has just whiffed on reporting that.

I invite Ley and his colleagues to study the links at the bottom of this post for the deeper story of swim coach “rape and escape.” Bad guys like Ivey, Bergen, and Stephens get secretly “flagged” by USA Swimming, then allowed to continue in the sport as pool owners, as American Swimming Coaches Association-brokered consultants, and through the old perverts’ home, U.S. Masters Swimming.

Last and least, correspondent Delsohn used (or was ordered to use) passive language in describing how the ASU police report on Winslow’s abuse of Lopus came to the public’s attention and  forced Utah to jettison him. That story was told exclusively on this site on February 28, and it led within hours to the escorting of Winslow off the pool deck at the Pac 12 championships in Federal Way, Washington. In dishing no credit to other journalists, OTL is no worse than par for the course here.

For some reason, the ESPN website now archives seven-minute condensations of the 22-minute OTL episodes. You can view this one at http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=10168610. Audio of the whole episode is in podcast form at http://espn.go.com/espnradio/play?id=10187037. The website labels it only “12/22: Outside the Lines,” whereas others are identified by headline topic. I have no idea whether this is another example of subtle burial at the behest of ESPN Corporate, or simply a slip-up. I only know that such quality-control problems rarely afflict such properties as the Hunger Games 2 Bowl On ESPN Kollege Klassic In Bluetooth.

 

FURTHER READING:

 

EXCLUSIVE: Greg Winslow, University of Utah Coach With Deep Roots in Elite Swimming, Faces Charges of Sexually Abusing Underage Girl at Arizona State Club Program

Published February 28th, 2013

 

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BULLETIN: Utah Suspends Swim Coach Greg Winslow Pending Sex Abuse Investigation

Published February 28th, 2013

 

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USA Swimming’s Jill Chasson: I Would Recuse Myself From National Board of Review Hearing on Greg Winslow

Published February 28th, 2013

 

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Salt Lake Tribune on Swim Coach Greg Winslow’s Suspension in Anticipation of Sex Offense Charges

Published February 28th, 2013

 

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Utah Says Allegations Against Swim Coach Greg Winslow Caught It By Surprise. Former Swimmer Argues — Very Plausibly — That There’s a Cover-Up

Published February 28th, 2013

 

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Arizona State Clears Its Throat: ‘Victim Not a Student at the University’

Published March 1st, 2013

 

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The Morning After: What Happens Next in the Story of Deposed Utah Coach Greg Winslow and the Generation-Old and Unraveling USA Swimming Sex Abuse Scandals

Published March 1st, 2013

 

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Yahoo Sports’ Eric Adelson Details Sex Abuse Victim’s ‘Confrontation’ Phone Call to Greg Winslow

Published March 1st, 2013

 

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More Phoenix News Media on Swim Coach Greg Winslow Sex Abuse Charges

Published March 2nd, 2013

 

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Introducing the Greg Winslow Files: Part 1 — A Military Background, A ‘Groomed’ Marriage

Published March 3rd, 2013

 

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Will USA Swimming ‘Safe Sport Director’ Susan Woessner Recuse Herself From the Investigation of Greg Winslow’s Alleged Sex Abuse at ASU?

Published March 3rd, 2013

 

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Greg Winslow Files: Part 2 — Coach Accused of Sex Abuse in Arizona Had Troubled Tenure at Utah, Including an Affair With Another Coach

Published March 4th, 2013

 

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SWIM COACH GREG WINSLOW OUT AT UTAH

Published March 4th, 2013

 

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Greg Winslow Files: Part 3 — Breath Drill on Mexico Training Trip Caused Swimmer’s Seizure; Incident Covered Up

Published March 4th, 2013

 

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Greg Winslow Files: Part 4 — Timing of Two Female Swimmers’ Interviews in Two Investigations Is Key to Possible University of Utah Cover-Up

Published March 5th, 2013

 

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Utah Responds: Our Greg Winslow Investigator Is a Sex-Crimes Specialist

Published March 5th, 2013

 

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Greg Winslow Files: Part 5 — Predecessor Swim Coach at Utah, Mike Litzinger, Left Under a Similar Cloud of Allegations

Published March 5th, 2013

 

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Greg Winslow Files: Part 6 — Alleged Victim of Utah Swim Coach in Arizona Is No Isolated Case

Published March 6th, 2013

 

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Summary of Arizona State University Police Report Recommending Sex Abuse Charges Against Swim Coach Greg Winslow

Published March 6th, 2013

 

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Greg Winslow Sex Abuse Scandal Mailbag: Clear Details (Which We’re Not Publishing) on Another Victim on the Utah Women’s Swim Team

Published March 6th, 2013

 

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Utah Sources: Recent Departure of Associate Athletic Director Was Tied to Unraveling Swim Coach Greg Winslow Sex Abuse Scandal

Published March 7th, 2013

 

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Greg Winslow Firestorm: Fingers Point to Utah Athletic Director Chris Hill in Abuse Cover-Up

Published March 9th, 2013

 

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What USA Swimming REALLY Fears About the Greg Winslow Sex Abuse Scandals in Arizona and Utah

Published March 10th, 2013

 

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Utah Athletic Director Chris Hill’s Statements on Accused Sex Abuser Swim Coach Greg Winslow Only Raise More Questions

Published March 10th, 2013

 

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Did Utah Monitor Accused Rapist Swim Coach Greg Winslow in Activities With Campus-Based Youth Club? Question a Parent Asked University and NCAA — Neither Answered

Published March 14th, 2013

 

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Utah’s Black Swimmer, the PVC Pipe, and Greg Winslow’s Motivating ‘Go Show Them You Are My Nigga’

Published March 14th, 2013

 

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Dear Sun Devil Aquatics Owner Mike Chasson: What Have You Communicated to Your Families About the Greg Winslow Sex Abuse Charges? Answer: (sound of crickets chirping)

Published March 15th, 2013

 

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ASU and Utah’s Failure to Communicate About Abusive Swim Coach Greg Winslow at End of Long Trail of Swimming’s Negligent Disregard of Athlete Safety

Published March 18th, 2013

 

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Greg Winslow’s First Swim Club, in Colorado Springs, Knows Nothing About the Sex Abuse Charges Against Him and Has Told Its Members Nothing

Published March 18th, 2013

 

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Air Force Academy, Former Greg Winslow Employer: ASU and Utah Did Not Contact Us And We Have Told Our Swimmers and Families Nothing

Published March 18th, 2013

 

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Air Force Academy/Colorado Springs Falfins, Former Greg Winslow Employer: ASU and Utah Did Not Contact Us — Learned About It ‘Through Your Blog’

Published March 18th, 2013

 

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From Russia With (Understated) Hate: The Powerful Greg Winslow Critique of Utah Swimmer Vlas Lezin

Published March 21st, 2013

 

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Assistant Coach Lisa Pursley Confronted Greg Winslow Over His Drinking — Then Reported It to Utah Administration

Published March 21st, 2013

 

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Utah Continues to Beat Up the Script of Its ‘Independent’ Probe of Greg Winslow Mess — Third Investigator Added, With Report Going to Board of Trustees

Published March 25th, 2013

 

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Questions About USA Swimming National Board of Review Chair Jill Chasson Go Deeper Than Her Marriage to Sun Devil Aquatics Owner Mike Chasson

Published April 22nd, 2013

 

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Sun Devil Aquatics’ Pool Rental Contracts With Arizona State University

Published May 4th, 2013

 

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USA Swimming Lies About Greg Winslow Investigation — Says He Can Only Be on ‘Watch List’

Published May 29th, 2013

 

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Conflicted Jill Chasson Departs As Chair of USA Swimming’s National Board of Review

Published July 13th, 2013

 

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United States Masters Swimming: Where Old Perverts Make Soft Landings

Published July 16th, 2013

 

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Review of News12 Phoenix 11-Minute Package on Whitney Lopus Lawsuit in Greg Winslow Case, Plus the National Swim Coach Sex Abuse Scandal

Published August 24th, 2013