Update on the Chaos — Or Worse — in Tampa Bay Area Swimming

Published September 13th, 2019, Uncategorized

by Irvin Muchnick

The University of Tampa has not responded to Concussion Inc.’s query regarding complaints about one of its swimming coaches, Ryan Gober. We mentioned this last week, at https://concussioninc.net/?p=13982, in the course of noting the Swim Swam site’s report of the arrest of Linck Bergen — who, like Gober, coached at the Greater Tampa Swim Association.

Though the university has gone radio-silent, I did get some strong pushback from Gober’s lawyer Nathan McCoy. In addition to denying the allegations of misconduct by Gober, McCoy made some decent points that fair reporting should reflect. This is not to say that I have reached conclusions on the veracity of the Gober allegations. But it is to say that this story has multiple moving parts, and readers deserve to know the fuller context as efforts proceed to get to the bottom of the story.

There is not a doubt in my mind that the story is a regional or wider in scope, going well beyond the fate of Ryan Gober. The Tampa Bay Area swim scene is rife with questions of irregularities, corruption, and abuse.

Bear in mind the movements of a coach, Peter Banks, who understudied in Ireland for George Gibney, the most notorious at-large sex criminal in the history of global sports, and who, as an official of the American Swimming Coaches Association, may well have been a key figure in enabling or helping fudge the paperwork for Gibney’s flight to this country in 1994 under a diversity lottery visa. Banks now coaches at Berkeley Prep in Tampa, and my multiple local parent sources think the head coach there, Peter Rosepapa, is protecting him.

Protecting Banks from what, I can’t say yet — for all I know, only from a complaint that he lifted $5 from the lemonade stand jar at a local meet. But we do know that Banks, whose career has taken him from Ireland to the U.S. and back and back, and who last year was bounced from Pipeline Swimming in Tampa, refuses to respond to Concussion Inc.’s basic questions. As does Berkeley Prep.

And in a tidbit I now publish for the first time, Berkeley Prep has ample reason to be extra-vigilant and extra-diligent about safety inquiries. In 2013 one of the school’s assistant swim coaches, Jay Elliott Goldstein, got 20 years in state prison for child porn. See https://www.tampabay.com/news/courts/criminal/former-berkeley-prep-swim-coach-gets-20-years-for-child-porn/2116929/.

Our most recent rundown on Peter Banks was “Berkeley Prep School Headmaster Joseph Seivold and Athletic Director Bobby Reinhart Must Make Their New Hire Peter Banks Clear the Air Surrounding Any Association With Rapist Irish Olympic Swim Coach George Gibney’s U.S. Immigration,” August 26, 2018, https://concussioninc.net/?p=13214.

Getting back to Ryan Gober … The fair context missing from my September 8 post is that the allegations against Gober have surfaced — “not so coincidentally,” in lawyer McCoy’s estimation — at the same time that he is embroiled in a business dispute with Todd Hoffmeier, the head coach and owner of the Greater Tampa Swim Association. Hoffmeier sued Gober for allegedly violating terms of a non-compete clause after the two split and Gober started coaching for other entities.

Whatever we wind up finding out for certain about Gober, let’s all of us remember that Hoffmeier is not a good guy. Just for starters, he’s the genius who imported Linck Bergen to Florida coaching. Linck Bergen — son of International Swimming Hall of Fame rapist coach Paul Bergen. Linck Bergen — fired by the Tualatin Hills club in Oregon in 2014 for undisclosed reasons. Swimming sources say that when Bergen was arrested last month for meth possession, the main reaction in the Pacific Northwest was, “What took so long?”

(See https://concussioninc.net/?p=8404 for complete headline links to our 2013 coverage of father Paul Bergen’s sexual abuse, which finally compelled the Nike-sponsored Tualatin Hills group to remove Bergen’s name from a junior international meet that it hosted.)

There’s one more important bullet from my exchange with Gober defender McCoy. According to the lawyer, the University of Tampa has received anonymous complaints from two mysterious email addresses, which he shared with me. I told McCoy that I didn’t recognize one of the email addresses, and added that my conversations about Gober were with area parents who have no skin in the game of Hoffmeier v. Gober; these parents dislike the behavior of both of them, as well as many others in the local swimming establishment.

But I did recognize the second email address — because, in the past, I also received correspondence from this masked person. I can tell you that this individual is on the wrong side of ethics, morality, history, facts, and in my experience has both denied the problem of youth sports coach sexual abuse and has actively smeared and tried to destroy the life of a brave abuse victim and whistleblower.

Finally, I believe I know the identity of the wielder of this poison pen, as well as Todd Hoffmeier’s connection thereto. More on all this shortly.

Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for an answer from the University of Tampa, where Ryan Gober coaches.