Turns out that Rick Curl, who is headed to prison for molesting his swimmer Kelley Davies Currin for years, beginning when she was 13, is not an honoree of the International Swimming Hall of Fame. IHOF got The Washington Post to clarify. See http://www.swimmingworldmagazine.com/lane9/news/World/34673.asp?q=ISHOF-Working-to-Clear-False-Connection-With-Disgraced-Rick-Curl.
But from where I sit, the story of why Curl isn’t in the Hall is equally revealing. With the number of world-class swimmers Curl developed, along with his work building the Curl-Burke club into one of the nation’s largest and most successful competitive youth swim programs, he certainly qualified in terms of in-pool accomplishment.
Curl was never officially an official Olympic team staff, either – and the reason, I’m told, is that top-level coaches, such as Mark Schubert and the late Richard Quick, made it clear to the USA Swimming leadership that they wouldn’t have Curl because of his well-known history of sex crimes. All this begs the question of why, if such a history disqualified Curl for certain positions of honor, it also didn’t disqualify from staying in international circulation as a coach and from accountability in the criminal justice system. The latter didn’t happen until last year – around 30 years after his first illicit advances on Curl, and around 20 since current USA Swimming vice president David Berkoff says he compared notes on pedophile coaches “over beers” with fellow Olympic swimmer Pablo Morales.
ISHOF chief executive Bruce Wigo told Swimming World, “We deplore any ethical violations of the spirit and principles of Olympism, and especially those instances involving coaches who have used their position of authority to sexually abuse athletes entrusted to their care…. To date, the ISHOF has received no such findings against any of the coaches admitted into our Hall of Fame. If a court of law, national or international governing body or other organization such as USA Swimming, the YMCA, AAU or FINA member federation were to make such a determination, we will act promptly for the protection of athletes, and the integrity of our Hall of Fame.”
The last part of ISHOF’s statement seems to serve as preemptive justification for the continued Hall of Fame status of coaches Paul Bergen and Murray Stephens. In an email, I pressed Wigo to outline the threshold of evidence or procedure by which Bergen or Stephens might be “de-inducted.” I prefaced the query by saying that I would like to start “by not pretending that you know nothing about the allegations against them.”
Wigo has not responded.