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Critic of U. swim coach subject of harassment investigation

Published April 10, 2013 7:51 am

College swimming • Ex-Ute athlete says case against him is retaliation for whistle-blowing.
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One of the most outspoken critics of former Utah swimming coach Greg Winslow has himself become the subject of a University of Utah investigation.

The university's dean of students is looking into allegations that the former swimmer Austin Fiascone made comments to two people "that have been perceived as intimidating, coercive and hostile."

Fiascone, whom Winslow removed from the school's team last year, informed The Tribune of the allegations but would not discuss the specifics of the case, though his father, Matt Fiascone, said he suspected the complaints were retaliation for the whistle-blowing that led to the U.'s investigation of Winslow and the athletics department.

"While there is an overwhelming amount of evidence that has come to light confirming that former swim coach Greg Winslow was a racist, abusive to his athletes both physically and mentally, and vengeful of anyone that opposed him, there are still individuals who believe many of the lies that he told them, including the insidious amount of lies he told the team about me," Austin Fiascone said in a statement Tuesday.

"While it is disappointing to learn that there are still individuals who do not comprehend what a monster Winslow was, or the good that will come out of his dismissal, including the imperative shift in the athletic departments culture of protecting coaches not athletes, I do not wish to and cannot force their thinking.  I anticipate a positive and conclusive resolution to the matter from the Dean of Students office shortly."

Winslow's practices have come under fire in recent weeks, following Winslow's suspension from the team Feb. 28 amid allegations of sexual misconduct with a 15-year-old girl in 2007.

Media reports have shed light on years of written correspondence from swimmers and their families, alleging abusive behavior by the coach. Those complaints included allegations of showing up drunk or hungover at practices; failing to report two swimmers who were caught buying marijuana on a trip to Arizona; punching an assistant coach; having an improper relationship with a female swimmer; and buying an underage swimmer beer.

Utah athletic director Chris Hill has declined to discuss his knowledge of the complaints that had been lodged over the years, saying he did not want to taint the investigation.

But parents who talked to The Tribune said Hill was directly contacted on multiple occasions, dating back to late spring of 2009.

The university's Board of Trustees said Tuesday it had five trustees working on the investigation of the swimming team and the athletic department's handling of complaints.

"We certainly intend to give this our full attention," University of Utah Board of Trustees chairman Clark Ivory said. "We want to make sure this is handled in the best way possible."

Tribune reporter Lindsay Whitehurst contributed to this report.

afalk@sltrib.com

Twitter: @aaronfalk