by Irvin Muchnick
As USA Swimming’s $100,000 “internal review” consultant Victor Vieth prepares to write a report commissioned for the purpose of heading off federal investigations, Tim Joyce and I continue to analyze the subtexts of the backpedaling cleanup operations that go unremarked elsewhere.
One of the more intriguing of these stories is the apparent banishment from Sun Devil facilities of Sun Devil Aquatics. Well, OK — we know that the players aren’t putting it just that way. But as Swimming World reports:
“In a landmark move within the Arizona Swimming landscape, Mesa Aquatics Club has announced that it has merged with Sun Devil Aquatics under the MAC Banner. This new arrangement has MAC expanding its year-round programs to include two new pools as well as developing its swim school.”
Sun Devil Aquatics owner Mike Chasson — also former head coach at Arizona State University — is quoted as saying, “The saddest thing is losing the Sun Devil Aquatics name, which we’ve had for 15 years or so. But as far as … getting on the national scene, there are nothing but positives with this.”
Actually, there are a few things other than “positives.” Questions, for example.
ASU was not named in abused former Sun Devil Aquatics swimmer Whitney Lopus’s lawsuit against monster Greg Winslow, who coached her both at the ASU club and for a year at the University of Utah. But the suspicion is that the university had had enough of its potential exposure over allowing its name and Mona Plummer Aquatic Center to be associated with USA Swimming’s unsavory ways.
In 2014, Concussion Inc. owes our readers further examination of the sweetheart deals between private clubs and public university and park and recreation district pools. “Sports welfare” subsidies are better understood than they used to be with respect to major team sport stadiums that get built on the municipal dime. The investigations of USA Swimming by Congressman George Miller and federal agencies now must take account of these subsidies in minor sports, as well — and of how, in cases like Chasson’s Sun Devil Aquatics and his employee Winslow, the subsidies also effectively encompass systematic sexual abuse of youth athletes. This was not exactly what the original sponsors of the Amateur Sports Act had in mind in 1978, or what Senator Ted Stevens had in mind when he spearheaded its update 20 years later.