University of Missouri

Mizzou swimming and diving coach on paid leave is under Title IX investigation

The University of Missouri pool pictured during the SEC swimming and diving championships in 2016.
The University of Missouri pool pictured during the SEC swimming and diving championships in 2016.

Missouri’s Title IX Office has opened an investigation into men’s and women’s swimming and diving coach Greg Rhodenbaugh, multiple sources told the Star.

Multiple current or former members of the women’s swim team came forward with issues about Rhodenbaugh’s management of female athletes, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.

“Each girl who had stepped forward has been affected in some way or another but each has her own story to tell,” a former swimmer said in a message to The Star. “Sadly it’s been going on for years but now we are all brave and are working together to help the next group of female athletes.”

The same former athlete, who asked not to be identified, said the investigation “definitely has to do with discrimination” of women’s swimmers.

The Title IX Office opened the investigation Monday, according to one source. Mizzou Athletics placed Rhodenbaugh on paid administrative leave that afternoon.

“We recently were made aware of serious team management allegations by our student-athletes, and it is appropriate that Coach Rhodenbaugh be placed on paid administrative leave while the university conducts a full investigation,” athletic director Jim Sterk said in a release. “We expect and demand that our coaches manage their programs with the utmost integrity, and we will review any allegation thoroughly.”

A message left with Rhodenbaugh on Thursday seeking comment was not returned. He is in his ninth year as head coach of the Tigers and served as an assistant coach for Team USA at the 2015 Pan American Games.

The MU Office for Civil Rights & Title IX enforces the university’s non-discriminatory policies. The office investigates issues of sexual violence, harassment and discrimination. Its investigations are conducted independent of law enforcement.

When asked for comment, the Title IX office referred The Star to the university’s news bureau, which said it does not comment on whether there is an open investigation.

One former athlete said Rhodenbaugh’s behavior was detrimental to her mental health. On one occasion, when she talked to him about mental health concerns, Rhodenbaugh told her to pray.

“He didn’t tell me to take my meds or take care of myself,” the former swimmer said. “He just told me to pray, which was very awkward for me, especially since I’m not really a religious person.”

A source with knowledge of the Title IX case confirmed that Rhodenbaugh’s handling of mental health issues is part of the investigation.

“Once the investigation is out and the details are out, this is a story that people on campus and people in the athletics world need to know,” one of the former swimmers said. “I’m very passionate about it because of my own personal experience and because of my friends’ experience.”

The former swimmer said she liked the assistant coaches on the team, including Andrew Grevers, who Mizzou Athletics appointed as interim coach for both teams. Her problems were with Rhodenbaugh.

“I am confident that Andrew will provide outstanding leadership to our coaching staff and student-athletes during this difficult time,” Sterk said in his statement. “He has earned the team’s trust and respect, which are always important factors when making an important decision such as this. We have a talented and capable group of assistant coaches who will work with Andrew to ensure that our student-athletes and program continue to move forward.”

Grevers said he could not comment about the situation after the Tigers men and women competed Thursday in the first day of a two-day meet. He said he’s pleased with his team’s toughness and resilience.

“They’re constantly looking forward,” he said. “Eyes forward, focusing on what they can control. They can control their attitude and they can control their effort, and that’s exactly what they’re doing.”

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