Utah gymnastics coach Tom Farden is out as Red Rocks boss after months of controversy

Utah AD Mark Harlan announced that the school and Farden “mutually agreed to part ways.”

Less than two weeks after he was placed on administrative leave, Tom Farden is no longer coach of the Utah Red Rocks gymnastics team.

The University of Utah announced Tuesday night that Farden and the school had “mutually agreed to part ways, effective immediately.” Carly Dockendorf will continue as interim head coach of the program, the U. said in a news release.

“The past several months have been an extremely challenging time for our gymnastics program,” Athletic Director Mark Harlan said in the release. “Changes like this are never easy, and only come after extensive analysis and discussion. In this case, the decision provides necessary clarity and stability for our student-athletes and prevents further distraction from their upcoming season.”

Farden had been under fire for several months after allegations surfaced that he verbally and emotionally abused past and present gymnasts on his team. An investigation exonerated him, but the school placed him on paid administrative leave Nov. 12 for what it called “recent conduct and actions” that “simply do not align with our values and expectations.” The U. said that those actions were “not related to student-athlete welfare.”

In late August, the Deseret News published a report in which several gymnasts and staff, all of whom remained anonymous, alleged Farden had degraded them, screamed at them, and threw objects at them in frustration. Many of his former gymnasts, however, came to his defense in the days and weeks afterward.

Former Olympic alternate Kara Eaker announced on social media last month that she was retiring from gymnastics, and alleged she was a victim of Farden’s verbal and emotional abuse. She also criticized the investigation into Farden as “incomplete.”

In a Washington Post article published Monday, Farden’s lawyer, Brian C. Johnson, said Farden would “likely” sue former Utah gymnasts Kara Eaker and Kim Tessen for public statements they’ve made about him in recent weeks. The article also said Farden was placed on leave soon after the reporter reached out to the university to seek comment about Johnson’s statements.

Tuesday, Farden said in the release:

“I am grateful to the University of Utah for the privilege of coaching its storied gymnastics program. The University of Utah has been my home for a decade, and it is difficult to say goodbye, but the time has come for me to embark on a new chapter.

“I am immensely proud of the young women who have poured their hearts and souls into Utah gymnastics during my time here and who have brought so much to this community. It has truly been an honor to coach them, and I extend my heartfelt thanks and wishes for their continued success, now and in the years to come.”

Farden spent eight years at Utah as either the head or co-coach of the Red Rocks. In his previous four years as sole head coach, the team won three consecutive Pac-12 championships, three NCAA regional titles, and earned third-place finishes in three straight NCAA Championship meets.