SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Concerns surrounding the head coach of the University of Utah’s award-winning gymnastics program have come to light, alleging verbal and emotional abuse and physical intimidation of members of the team.
The university’s gymnastics program has received countless awards and won 10 national championships. They are known for their legacy of passion and skill in the sport, but now that reputation is under scrutiny due to allegations against Coach Tom Farden.
Some former gymnasts spoke with ABC4 saying they were shocked by the allegations.
“I have nothing but positives to say about Tom. My experience with him was really awesome. You know, I look at Tom as kind of a mentor, you know, a friend now that I’m done,” former gymnast Sydney Soloski said.
She said she personally did not witness any of the alleged abuse, however, she continued to say her experience does not negate anyone else’s, and their experience does not discredit hers.
Farden’s allegations reportedly include public shaming, a toxic and unwelcome environment, and physical intimidation.
The university says an outside, independent review of the program began in July. University of Utah officials expect the results of the review in the next couple of weeks and say they will be posted on the school’s website.
Another former gymnast, who asked to remain anonymous, spoke with ABC4 saying her experience on the team was great but she could see how some things he’s said in the past could be taken out of context.
“He’s a human being. He’s obviously said things that maybe he shouldn’t have, and I’m not going to deny that. But no part of him is, you know, ill-hearted and trying to demean his gymnasts,” she said.
She continued to say everyone’s experiences are their own and she can only speak on hers.
“I hope anyone that truly feels that way is finding the peace and the healing and whatever they need,” Soloski said. “And I hope that this investigation brings everyone a little bit of closure and some clarity on the situation so we can move forward from this and grow from it.”