Rutgers fires womens’ swim coach after abuse allegations
The allegations include mental and physical abuse
Four years after Rutgers University athletics saw a player-coach abuse scandal in former men's basketball coach Mike Rice Jr., the school is seeing another in women's head swim coach Petra Martin.
In a story first reported by NJ.com, Martin was dismissed from her position this afternoon following concerns raised earlier this week about the swimming program. The decision was formally made after athletic director Patrick Hobbs met with the team in an "hours-long" meeting Wednesday night.
The university released a statement saying, "Over the last 48 hours, (Hobbs) reviewed these concerns with both the team and the coach and today (Martin) and (Hobbs) mutually agreed that it was in the best interest of the program for the coach to resign."
The accusations against Martin were brought on by both former and current students, along with their parents. The abuses in question included body-shaming and forced dieting, abusive language during training, and demands for swimmers to stop use of medications prescribed to them for mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. According to the swimmers and parents, Martin also singled out struggling teammates during practices.
Additionally, one of the team members considered suicide because of the grueling training, according to the report. Another swimmer, Barbra Brottman, said that Martin put the team through drills that would leave swimmers "on the verge of blacking out; people were peeing themselves because they had no oxygen left."
Abuse allegations against Martin date as far back as 2016, when swimmer Morgan Perrotti was dismissed from the team and had her scholarship revoked. The university stated that they conducted two previous investigations into the matter, but Perrotti's attorney stated in an e-mail that Rutgers ignored numerous and repeated concerns into the coach's behavior.
Martin was an All-American swimmer at the University of Maryland and a former member of the Czech National Team. She was hired by former Rutgers athletic director Julie Hermann in 2015 – who was fired that same year after a string of controversies including her own allegations of player abuse throughout her career. Martin's 5-year contract was worth $90,000 and after raises and bonuses made $98,495 in 2016.
Hobbs stated that there is no word yet on how the university will handle the rest of Martin's contract. In the meantime, Fred Woodruff will oversee the program with assistance from Jon Maccoll.