The American Swimming Coaches Association is staging its annual convention this week at the Riviera Hotel in Las Vegas. According to executive director John Leonard, ASCA is not “an organization that deals directly with children, nor is that part of our purpose in any way, shape or form.”
Tell that to the victims of sexual abuse by ASCA members. And tell that to ASCA’s logistically indistinguishable partner in the commercial swimming industry, USA Swimming, the sport’s national governing body.
One of ASCA potentate Leonard’s most clever strategies is to stock his board of directors with some of the best-known college swimming coaches. The NCAA, too, is not an organization that deals directly with children, nor is that part of its purpose in any way, shape or form. Tell that to the victims of Jerry Sandusky.
The common-sense truth of the matter is that our leading colleges and universities are up to their green eye shades in collusion in the sex abuse scandal. The youth club system feeds their programs. They, in turn feed the national Olympic team, and share in its prestige and patronage. On many campuses, both public and private, pool facilities are rented to USA Swimming affiliates for practices or meets, and there are even crossovers on coaching staffs.
Among the NCAA worthies with star speaking turns at the ASCA conference are board members Tim Welsh (Notre Dame), Eddie Reese (University of Texas), and Gregg Troy (University of Florida). Troy is an especially interesting case in point.
First – though not every single piece of the following fairly sticks to Troy himself – the University of Florida seems to be quite the capital of sexual misconduct in swimming. One of Troy’s predecessors there, Mitch Ivey, got dumped in 1993 when ESPN’s Outside the Lines reported his widely known history of sexually exploiting (and in one case subsequently marrying) teen girl swimmers in his charge. That was it for Ivey’s coaching career. But ASCA, which is not an organization that deals directly with children, stepped in to help him keep the wolf from the door with a series of commissions to write instructional manuals.
Before his position at Florida, Troy coached at a powerhouse youth program, the Bolles Sharks out of Jacksonville. More later on the historical deviations from the sexual straight-and-narrow at Bolles.
In August of 2010, a guy named Bryan Woodward was hired as an age-group coach for the Gator Swim Club, a USA Swimming affiliate in Gainesville. In January of this year, Woodward, 29, was arrested for soliciting sex with a minor over the Internet. The Gator Swim Club dropped him and USA Swimming added him to its banned list. The Gator Swim Club is co-owned by Kathleen Troy – Gregg Troy’s wife. See http://www.gainesville.com/article/20120111/ARTICLES/120119871?tc=ar.
Still, while the coaches on ASCA’s board prattle in Las Vegas this week on such topics as “The Division 1 coaching track” and “6 great ideas per hour,” we can all sleep soundly with the knowledge that neither ASCA nor the NCAA is an organization that deals directly with children.
Next up: The helpful Pat Hogan, USA Swimming club development director – always at the ready with a reference for a new job.