Utah gymnastics coach Tom Farden placed on administrative leave
The University of Utah noted the action was taken after recent conduct and actions by Farden not related to student-athlete welfare
Utah women’s gymnastics head coach Tom Farden has been placed on paid administrative leave effective immediately, the University of Utah announced late Sunday evening.
In a statement, the school noted that the action was taken after “recent conduct and actions by Coach Farden not related to student-athlete welfare, which simply do not align with our values and expectations.”
Associate head coach Carly Dockendorf, who has been a part of Utah’s gymnastics program since coming on as a volunteer assistant coach in 2018, will serve as the team’s interim head coach.
Utah will begin the 2024 season Jan. 5, hosting Boise State at the Huntsman Center. The team is also slated to stage its annual Red Rocks Preview on Dec. 15.
Farden was previously investigated by Kansas City-based law firm Husch Blackwell, as the Deseret News first reported, following allegations of verbal and emotional abuse made by former Utah gymnasts and parents.
The review found that Farden “did not engage in any severe, pervasive or egregious acts of emotional or verbal abuse of student-athletes” and “did not engage in any acts of physical abuse, emotional abuse or harassment as defined by SafeSport Code.” The review also said that Farden’s behavior has improved over the last couple of years, following an investigation conducted by the University of Utah itself.
The Husch Blackwell investigation did find that Farden “made a derogatory comment to a student-athlete that if she was not at the University she would be a ‘nobody working at a gas station’ in her hometown” and “a few student-athletes alleged that Coach Farden made comments to student-athletes that, if corroborated, would have likely resulted in a finding that they violated the Athletics’ Well Being Policy’s prohibition on degrading language.”
“The comments as alleged were isolated occurrences that could not be independently corroborated and were denied by Coach Farden,” the report said.
Following the release of the report, Utah athletic director Mark Harlan released the following statement:
“I met with coach Farden this week to express my disappointment and to share with him my expectations moving forward. Both Chief Operating Officer/Deputy Director of Athletics Charmelle Green and I will be even more vigilant in monitoring his conduct and his coaching methods, and he will be held to a higher standard moving forward.”
In a statement released at the same time, Farden expressed that he cares deeply about the health, safety and well-being of each athlete he coaches.
“It has been painful to learn of the negative impacts that my words and actions have created, and I have thoroughly examined the accounts of every person who shared their experience through their participation in the program review,” he said.
“I also embrace and respect the courage of those who expressed negative experiences from their interactions with me. Their input has caused me to humbly reflect and hold myself accountable in order to improve.”