Copyright 2014 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
The Georgia women's swimming and diving team is one of the favorites to win the title at the NCAA championships in Minneapolis, which started Thursday. But Jack Bauerle, the Hall of Fame coach who has led the Bulldogs to their previous five titles, won't be there.
Bauerle remains under suspension from competitions because of his involvement in an "academic eligibility matter." Star men's swimmer Chase Kalisz, a sophomore, was suspended from competition earlier this season, but his academic eligibility was restored, and he is competing for the Bulldogs. The men's nationals begin next week in Austin, Texas.
Bauerle was not allowed to accompany the women's team or travel to Minneapolis at his own expense. As has been the case since his suspension was announced Jan. 4, Bauerle is allowed to coach his team in practices, but is not allowed "on the deck" for home competitions or to accompany the team to away meets. Indications are that will be the case next week as well.
"His status has not changed," Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity said Wednesday. "He's coaching the men right now and getting them ready to compete."
UGA hosted the SEC men's and women's swimming championships last month, and Bauerle had to watch the competition from the stands. Georgia's women won and the men finished third.
UGA will not reveal the exact circumstances of Bauerle's alleged transgression, but his continued absence indicates the seriousness and the likelihood that his fate is now being determined by an outside agency, such as the SEC or NCAA.
There are numerous discussions on swim community web pages and chat rooms indicating that Bauerle is accused of committing academic fraud in an attempt to keep Kalisz eligible at the end of fall semester in December.
UGA has continually declined to turn over to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution any documentation detailing its investigation despite numerous requests citing state and federal open-records laws. The school cites a federal law that prevents the release of documents regarding a state employee until 10 days after an investigation is closed.
Georgia's stance is that the investigation remains ongoing. "Until there is closure, we're always dealing with it," McGarity said.
In any case, the controversy has raised tensions between some UGA faculty and the athletic association's compliance office and academic support team.
Dick Hudson, a professor in Georgia's college of agriculture and environmental sciences and a close friend of Bauerle, wrote McGarity in January. In his email dated Jan. 14, he accused the athletic department's compliance office of being overzealous and threatened to take his complaints to the University Council "if this is not settled responsibly." It is indicated in the letter that Hudson is not directly involved in the "academic matter" in question.
"Your compliance people are creating a bad name for your administration," Hudson wrote, "and I am hearing from faculty across campus about this. Last summer, as you'll recall, the integrity of one of my classes was questioned, something that upset our faculty over here. And no explanation was sent to me from those who were involved. I understand your need to be compliant with NCAA rules, regulations and policies, but those who work in this area seem to be trying to make a name for themselves, and doing so at the expense of a great coach and person."
Hudson went on to write, "I do believe there is a need for some in-house evaluation and a better perspective on this situation and its resulting relationship between athletics and academics on our campus."
Contacted this week, Hudson declined to answer questions about Bauerle's situation or the accusations in his letter. McGarity also said he would be unable to comment on any of Hudson's accusations.
Even though he's not with them at meets, Bauerle continues to get credit for both the men's and women's teams' competitive results in the pool. Associate coach Harvey Humphries is overseeing the team at meets.
McGarity said that's appropriate because the Bulldogs' 35-year coach is "coaching harder than ever" when it comes to the teams' daily and weekly preparations.
With a Jan. 4 sweep of N.C. State, Bauerle earned his 500th and 501st wins as Georgia's coach. By the end of the regular season, he had pushed his total to 507 (297 with the women and 210 with the men). That makes Bauerle the winningest coach in SEC history, the second-winningest active coach and the sixth-winningest coach of all time.
And there is a good chance Bauerle could add a sixth national title to his resume. The Lady Bulldogs qualified 16 swimmers and one diver for the national meet, more than any other team.
No. 4 Gym Dogs face tough semifinal
session at SEC Championships
The Georgia gymnastics team will begin postseason competition this weekend at the SEC Championships in Birmingham, Ala.
The fourth-seeded Gym Dogs will join No. 1 seed Florida, No. 2 LSU and No. 3 Alabama in the second session Saturday at 7 p.m. at the BJCC Arena. Auburn, Arkansas, Missouri and Kentucky will compete in the first session at 3 p.m.
The second semifinal session features four of the nation's top six teams. Florida is ranked No. 1, LSU second, Alabama fourth and Georgia sixth. Florida will start the meet on vault, LSU on bars, Alabama on beam and Georgia on floor.
Georgia enters with a 6-5 record, including a 4-2 SEC mark. The Gym Dogs posted wins over LSU, Kentucky, Auburn and Arkansas, but fell on the road to Florida and Alabama.
UGA has won 16 SEC titles, more than any other school. The last SEC title came in 2008.