You have /5 articles left.
Sign up for a free account or log in.

The University of Utah has launched an investigation of its highly acclaimed women’s gymnastics program following allegations of verbal and emotional abuse of team gymnasts by head coach Tom Farden.

The university has turned to the Kansas City, Mo.–based law firm Husch Blackwell to conduct the review, according to The Deseret News. Current and former athletes, their parents, and Utah gymnastics staffers have been interviewed as part of the investigation.

The former student athletes, who spoke to The Deseret News on the condition of anonymity, are not alleging sexual abuse. They say Farden subjected them to verbal degradation and public shaming at practices and meets, isolating gymnasts from family and pressuring them to refrain from outside communication, and physical intimidation, including throwing objects in the gym and forcefully handling equipment.

The Deseret News said Farden declined to comment about the allegations.

One former gymnast told The Deseret News that Farden was only focused on winning. 

“I felt like I was a thing, a business asset,” she said. “If you’re doing stuff that doesn’t look good for this business that he’s running, then he thinks you’re irrelevant.”

Other athletes as well as former coaches, however, defended Farden and praised his approach.

“He is as professional as they come and he is one of the best coaches out there in the sport of women’s gymnastics,” said Megan Marsden, Farden’s former co–head coach. “He’s one of the best technical coaches and he cares about the athletes.”