by Irvin Muchnick
What happens to a guy like Brandon Drawz after he gets fired as executive director of SwimMAC Carolina, one of the country’s top competitive swimming clubs?
The short answer is that he goes looking for the next SwimMAC Carolina. Whether he succeeds or fails in that quest will have everything to do with twists and turns on the roads of politics, expedience, and money. Thanks to the criminal operation known as USA Swimming, it will have nothing to do with protecting America’s nearly half-million youth club swimmers from a violent con man with an alcohol problem who already has burned major programs on two coasts.
As Concussion Inc. first reported in April, Drawz was ditched by SwimMAC’s head coach, David Marsh, for undetermined reasons. We do know that Marsh ordered Drawz’s computer seized. But no one at the team will say exactly why.
Prior to the SwimMAC hire, Drawz was chief operating officer for the National Swimming Center Corporation, a cashless developer that tried to scam local municipalities into deeding public land and using public bonds to underwrite Ponzi scheme aquatic centers married to major hotel construction projects. Two of Drawz’s fellow operatives at NSCC went to federal prison in Texas on bank fraud convictions.
Months after Drawz left the state, minutes from the June board meeting of North Carolina Swimming stated: “Plans continue to move forward with SwimMAC Carolina and a developer for a new aquatic facility in Mooresville, NC. The proposed location will be part of a larger development planned to be a mix of retail, restaurants, residential and office spaces in a waterfront setting on Lake Norman and will include a Hilton DoubleTree hotel adjacent to the aquatic center.”
It is possible that the cause of Drawz’s separation was unrelated to his long history of financial and personal improprieties, and was merely a clash of egos with Marsh.
In addition, some sources within USA Swimming dispute our characterization of CEO Chuck Wielgus as the main organizational protector of Drawz, who long has held mysteriously charismatic sway with the industry’s top women. Unfathomably, and just before he was sacked by SwimMAC, “Safe Sport” director Susan Woessner had tapped Drawz for a major presenter role at a Colorado Springs conference on how USA Swimming was working to eradicate the widespread sexual abuse in its ranks.
In July, as long scheduled, Drawz proceeded in his role as general manager of the American team at the World University Games in South Korea. No one raised a peep.
According to some of our sources, Drawz’s key advocate in the USA Swimming bureaucracy is actually national team director Frank Busch. Recently, in the latest triumph of the sport’s old-boy network, Busch named SwimMAC’s Marsh as the head women’s coach for the 2016 Rio Games. Busch bypassed Teri McKeever, women’s coach at the University of California, who, shall we say, is just a tiny bit more qualified than Marsh. McKeever has sent dozens of female swimmers to the Olympics — including some of the greatest champions in history, such as Natalie Coughlin. Marsh has sent a few, with middling success. Boasting testicles, even I might have had a greater shot at the ‘16 Olympics job than the most accomplished woman coach in history.
More later on Marsh. For now, back to Drawz.
Late this summer, Drawz was also up for an unspecified administrative job with Georgia Swimming, USA Swimming’s regional affiliate. Before the hire could be completed, Lucinda McRoberts, the chief counsel (who took this new post last year after working for swimming at the Bryan Cave law firm), called around to Drawz’s former employers. One of them was Bud Taylor, the retired head guy at Mt. Hood Aquatics in Oregon and one of the sport’s most beloved figures in the Pacific Northwest.
Taylor told McRoberts that Drawz was a piece of trash whom he would never endorse for the Atlanta job, or any other. Taylor related the background of Drawz’s separation from Mt. Hood Aquatics in 2011 for questionable business dealings with the junior college district’s aquatic complex.
In my own August conversation with Taylor, he related something else from his interview with lawyer McRoberts: When he told her that he understood that Drawz was having an improper relationship with an official deeply involved in the USA Swimming Safe Sport program, the voice on the other end fell into shocked silence. This has led to furious speculation regarding just who is the latest partner in the multiply chaptered extramarital career of “BD.”
Long story short … Drawz did not get the job in Atlanta, after all. And following circulation of our series of reports at last month’s Aquatic Sports Convention in Kansas City, word leaked that USA Swimming has investigated Drawz for possible expulsion, but “cleared” him. Under what auspices Drawz was investigated, who knows? Evidently, it was not a “safe sport” matter per se. And it is not known exactly how a complaint against him got lodged, who submitted it, who processed it, or who made the determination that the allegations did not rise to the level of a full National Board of Review hearing.
Close, but not quite!
Thus, by the grace of the belated outspokenness of now 75-year-old Bud Taylor, Georgia Swimming was spared the latest territorial markings of Brandon Drawz. (Belated because Taylor, eight years earlier, had been sucker-punched by Drawz near the pool deck in Portland — yet still allowed Drawz to supervise Mt. Hood’s age-group athletes at a national meet in Indianapolis. While there, Drawz was arrested for domestic violence and public intoxication.)
Yes, Georgia Swimming was spared. But when this story dies down, as stories always do, what entity, which people, and in which region will be Drawz’s next victims?
BRANDON DRAWZ SERIES