Michigan ends relationship with former USA gym exec Faehn

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) The University of Michigan ended its relationship with former USA gymnastics executive Rhonda Faehn on Sunday, three days after she agreed to work as a coaching consultant for the women’s team.

“I have come to the conclusion that it is not in the best interest of the University of Michigan and our athletic program to continue the consulting contract with Rhonda Faehn,” athletic director Warde Manuel said in a statement. “It was the wrong decision, and I apologize. Our student-athletes are our highest priority and I want to do everything in my power to support them fully and put the focus back on their athletic performance.”

USA Gymnastics parted ways with Faehn as senior vice president in May after she was criticized by victims of Larry Nassar, the former national team doctor serving decades in prison for abusing athletes.

Faehn was with the Wolverines for a meet at Alabama on Friday.

On Saturday, Manuel said he supported the hiring recommendation made by gymnastics coach Bev Plocki after reviewing her role with USA Gymnastics and her coaching career.

USA Gymnastics hired Faehn in 2015 and she oversaw the women’s elite program, drawing on her experience as a U.S. national team member in the 1980s and a three-time national championship coach at Florida.

Faehn was alerted to potential abuse concerns about Nassar. She passed along the concerns to then-USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny, who was later arrested on charges he ordered files pertaining to Nassar removed from the team’s training center at the Karolyi Ranch in Texas.

Aly Raisman, a six-time Olympic medalist, raised concerns recently about Faehn’s role in the matter. Raisman said she wasn’t sure why Faehn did not go to authorities herself.

The organization conducted an internal investigation before removing Nassar and going to federal authorities. USA Gymnastics did not alert Michigan State, where Nassar was a faculty member, or a club in Michigan affiliated with Nassar. He pleaded guilty to molesting women and girls under the guise of treatment and was caught with child pornography. He is serving three prison sentences and will likely be locked up for life.

Michigan State reached a $500 million settlement with hundreds of Nassar’s victims. While USA Gymnastics has been hit with multiple lawsuits from victims, Faehn has not been personally named in any of them unlike Penny and longtime national team coordinator Martha Karolyi.

Teri McKeever fired by Cal as women’s swimming coach after investigation

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Teri McKeever, the first woman to serve as a U.S. Olympic swimming head coach, was fired by the University of California at Berkeley after an investigation into alleged verbal and emotional abuse of swimmers that she denied.

McKeever was put on paid administrative leave from her job as head women’s swimming coach in May after an Orange County Register report that 20 current or former Cal swimmers said McKeever verbally and emotionally bullied her swimmers.

Cal athletics director Jim Knowlton wrote in a letter to the Cal team and staff that a resulting independent law firm report detailed “verbally abusive conduct that is antithetical to our most important values.”

“I strongly believe this is in the best interests of our student-athletes, our swimming program and Cal Athletics as a whole,” Knowlton said of McKeever’s firing in a press release. “The report details numerous violations of university policies that prohibit race, national origin and disability discrimination.”

The Orange County Register first published what it says is the full independent report here.

“I deny and unequivocally refute all conclusions that I abused or bullied any athlete and deny any suggestion I discriminated against any athlete on the basis of race, disability or sexual orientation,” McKeever said in a statement Tuesday confirming her firing and expressing disappointment in how the investigation was conducted. “While I am disappointed in the way my CAL Career will conclude, I wish to thank and celebrate the many student-athletes and staff that made my time in Berkeley a true blessing and gift.”

McKeever’s lawyer wrote that McKeever “will be filing suit to expose the manner in which gender has affected not only the evaluation of her coaching but harmed and continues to harm both female and male athletes.”

McKeever led Cal women’s swimming and diving for nearly 30 years, winning four NCAA team titles and coaching Olympic champions including Missy FranklinNatalie Coughlin and Dana Vollmer.

In 2004, she became the first woman to be on a U.S. Olympic swim team coaching staff, as an assistant. In 2012, she became the first woman to be head coach of a U.S. Olympic swim team. She was an assistant again for the Tokyo Games.

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Diana Taurasi returns to U.S. national basketball team

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Diana Taurasi is set to return to the U.S. national basketball team next week for the first time since the Tokyo Olympics, signaling a possible bid for a record-breaking sixth Olympic appearance in 2024 at age 42.

Taurasi is on the 15-player roster for next week’s training camp in Minnesota announced Tuesday.

Brittney Griner is not on the list but is expected to return to competitive basketball later this year with her WNBA team, the Phoenix Mercury (also Taurasi’s longtime team, though she is currently a free agent), after being detained in Russia for 10 months in 2022.

Taurasi said as far back as the 2016 Rio Games that her Olympic career was likely over, but returned to the national team after Dawn Staley succeeded Geno Auriemma as head coach in 2017.

In Tokyo, Taurasi and longtime backcourt partner Sue Bird became the first basketball players to win five Olympic gold medals. Bird has since retired.

After beating Japan in the final, Taurasi said “see you in Paris,” smiling, as she left an NBC interview. That’s now looking less like a joke and more like a prediction.

Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve succeeded Staley as head coach last year. In early fall, she guided the U.S. to arguably the best FIBA World Cup performance ever, despite not having stalwarts Bird, Griner, Tina Charles and Sylvia Fowles.

Taurasi was not in contention for the team after suffering a WNBA season-ending quad injury in the summer. Taurasi, who is 38-0 in Olympic games and started every game at the last four Olympics, wasn’t on a U.S. team for an Olympics or worlds for the first time since 2002.

Next year, Taurasi can become the oldest Olympic basketball player in history and the first to play in six Games, according to Olympedia.org. Spain’s Rudy Fernandez could also play in a sixth Olympics in 2024.

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