UMBC Agrees to Pay $4.1M to Athletes Abused by Ex-Swim Coach, Parts Ways With Athletic Director

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The University of Maryland, Baltimore County, has agreed to pay $4.14 million to student-athletes who were abused and discriminated by a former swim coach. 

The settlement come after an investigation by the Department of Justice found the school had failed to adequately respond to allegations that former head coach of the men's and women's swimming and diving team, Chad Cradock, had sexually abused and discriminated against student-athletes. 

The DOJ found that the school failed to fulfill its duty under Title IX to prevent sexual discrimination and abuse, allowing Cradock to "engage in sex-based harassment, including unwanted sexual touching of male student-athletes, as well as sex discrimination against female student-athletes, on an ongoing basis for years."

"From approximately 2015 to 2020, the university was on notice of allegations that these student-athletes had been subjected to a hostile environment based on sex but failed to address it adequately," Justice Department prosecutors said in a March 18 letter addressed to the university's president, Valerie Sheares Ashby.

Related: State Officials Set to Vote on $4.1M Settlement for Students Abused by Ex-UMBC Coach 

"As a result, many student-athletes were subjected to sex discrimination, including unwanted sexual touching and other sexual harassment, which they understood to be a condition for participating in university athletics."

The school has now agreed to pay former members of both men's and women's swimming and diving teams between $60,000 and $180,000. 

In a statement, the DOJ said that the UMBC fully cooperated with their investigation and took "significant steps" to improve its prevention and response to abuse and discrimination. 

Ashby said the DOJ's investigation forced UMBC to "reckon with the past." 

"We cannot take away the suffering and trauma that many of our students endured in those years, nor can we undo the actions or inactions of the past," she said. "We can control how we respond to that painful past and how we ensure that this never happens again."

The settlement comes as UMBC announced Wednesday that athletic director Brian Barrio has left his position. 

“Very soon, we will launch a national search for a new director of athletics, as Brian Barrio is no longer serving in the role,” Ashby wrote. “I have met with the Athletics Department staff — both administrative staff and coaches — and many student-athletes to discuss this transition and assure them of my continued support.”

Barrio announced his departure on X Tuesday night. 

“Thank you to all of the student-athletes and coaches at UMBC for giving me 4+ years of great memories,” he wrote. “I am very proud of what we did together and will be rooting for you all! Thanks also to all the wonderful friends and colleagues who reached out today — I appreciate every word.” 

Barrio succeeded Tom Hall as athletic director back in 2020 just as the university was notified of an investigation by the DOJ into possible abuse and discrimination by Craddock. 

A former swimmer, who is referred to as 'K' by The Baltimore Suntold the paper that Barrio was the reason he felt safe coming forward with allegations against Cradock. 

“Brian had done quite a few things to make me feel like I wasn’t going to get persecuted,” K said. In part, Barrio had told him that his role as athletic director was to ensure student-athletes were safe and able to perform academically and athletically, not to protect coaches. “That was a big thing for me,” K said.

K said he found it perplexing if Barrio was forced out because of the DOJ's findings. 

“It feels like they’re just doing it to save face,” K said. “I don’t know if they’re getting rid of the right administration. I think there were probably people who knew more and were more responsible.”

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