13 Nov Utah Head Coach Tom Farden on paid administrative leave effective immediately
STATEMENT FROM UNIVERSITY OF UTAH ATHLETICS
The University of Utah has placed Head Gymnastics Coach Tom Farden on paid administrative leave effective immediately. This action comes after recent conduct and actions by Coach Farden not related to student-athlete welfare, which simply do not align with our values and expectations. Associate Head Coach Carly Dockendorf has agreed to serve as Interim Head Coach.
Utah gymnastics coach Tom Farden placed on administrative leave https://t.co/9xKADH9pZh
— Inside Gymnastics (@InsideGym) November 13, 2023
The Red Rocks Preview is scheduled for December 15.
The news, which broke late Sunday night, follows weeks of speculation, and silence from the University, over Farden’s standing as head coach for the Utes following an Instagram post on October 20 from 2020 Olympic alternate Kara Eaker. Eaker, a former national team member and two-time world champion (2018 and 2019 as part of Team USA), announced her retirement from the sport after experiencing alleged abuse at the University of Utah.
A Message from Kara Eaker
“To all of you who have been waiting patiently for an answer
Thank you all for the love and support I’ve received and I’m truly grateful to have you all stand with me!
Today I’m announcing my retirement from the University of Utah gymnastics team, the sport of gymnastics, and my withdrawal as a student at the University of Utah. I accepted an athletic scholarship to the University of Utah because I truly believed the school was a place where I could contribute to the community, be a strong asset to the gymnastics team, and be free to develop myself and future career.
For two years, while training with the Utah Gymnastics Team, I was a victim of verbal and emotional abuse. As a result, my physical, mental, and emotional health has rapidly declined …
I have now reached a turning point and I’m speaking out for all the women who can’t because they are mentally debilitated and paralyzed by fear. I, too, find myself frozen in moments when fear takes over. But I can no longer stand by while perpretors are still allowed in sports and are causing young girls and women to suffer.”
Note: Inside Gymnastics reached out to Utah Athletics Director Mark Harlan, Deputy Athletics Director Charmelle Green, and Liz Prince, Associate Athletics Director for Sport Administration and Student-Athlete Wellbeing, on October 23 as a follow up to our initial request on October 20 for a statement regarding Eaker’s post. As of this latest development, we have yet to receive a response directly related to Eaker.
Farden was the subject of an investigation that concluded in September. Husch Blackwell, an outside law firm, determined Farden “did not engage in any severe, pervasive or egregious acts of emotional or verbal abuse of student-athletes” and “did not engage in any acts of physical abuse, emotional abuse or harassment as defined by SafeSport Code.” He was said to have made a derogatory comment to a member of the team, but other similar reported comments could “not be independently corroborated and were denied by Coach Farden.” He also “more likely than not threw a stopwatch and a cellular telephone in frustration in the presence of student-athletes” but the investigation concluded the acts were “not repeated or severe.”
Kim Tessen Speaks Out
Tessen said she isn’t trying to compare her trauma to Eaker’s, rather, she is “sharing this in support of her and all other survivors of abusive coaching.”
She added that while she recognizes she had a lot of opportunities such as free education, food and housing, it was not worth enduring an abusive and toxic environment for four years.
Follow InsideGym.com for updates.