By: Cody Boteler, Senior Editor
Director of Athletics Tim Leonard has named Jake Shrum, who was previously an assistant coach, to the position of acting head coach for the swimming team and hired Tim Perkins as temporary diving coach, according to a statement from Towson University.
Head Coach Pat Mead was put on administrative leave Nov. 17, according to members of the swim team. Members of the team also said that Diving Coach Maureen Mead and Assistant Coach Adrienne Phillips had already been put on administrative leave.
Marina Cooper, the president’s deputy chief of staff, said she could not comment on the status of any of those employees, other than to confirm Shrum and Perkins’ appointments.
The members of the swim team all spoke on the condition of anonymity because they said they fear retribution from coaching staff or administration.
This news comes a month after an incident in which a smartphone was found in the women’s locker room, which “may have captured video images and audio recordings,” according to an Oct. 17 statement from the University.
Members of the swim team told The Towerlight that the phone, which they say recorded video, was in a locker used by a member of coaching staff. They said that Phillips and Maureen Mead moved quickly to gain possession of the phone after team members discovered it in the locker.
They said that a member of the team first noticed the phone because they saw light from the screen reflected in the back of the black locker.
Phillips, Pat Mead and Maureen Mead could not be reached for comment.
In a Nov. 16 meeting with The Towerlight, members of the team expressed frustration at how much time has passed since the Oct. 16 incident and how few answers they’ve received.
They said that they have not been told whether any of their coaches would be coming back, or what sort of action has been taken, other than that the investigation is ongoing.
“We haven’t been told anything,” one member said. “We’ve been kicked to the dirt and they’re like, ‘deal with it.’ And we’re not. We’re not going to. People have been emotionally scarred for forever, and nothing’s being done about it? No. We’re not going to stand for that. That’s so morally wrong.”
Members of the team were planning to boycott Thursday’s swim meet in Pittsburgh in protest of the way that the University has handled the investigation surrounding the incident.
In the same statement that announced Shrum’s appointment, the University said that Towson would not be competing in the meet in order to “refocus, recover, and regroup and to prepare to restart the competition schedule in January.”
After a Nov. 17 meeting between administration, team members and Athletics Department staff, in which the students were told about Shrum’s appointment, one member said that team was happy with the “new direction this program is headed in.”
Cooper said that the investigations surrounding the incident will have to conclude before any definite decisions can be made.
“We desperately want to give closure to them, but at the same time we have to give all parties due process,” Cooper said.
One female athlete on the team said that she had never sought counseling prior to the locker room incident, but now she and other women on the team have weekly appointments at the Counseling Center.
“It’s been terrible,” she said. “Everyone that walks past that locker looks for the phone. It’s just terrible going in there.”
The locker room where the phone was found is behind a door that requires a passcode to be unlocked. The code has been changed since the Oct. 16 incident.
Cooper said that she does not know when the investigation will conclude but that “everyone’s pretty hopeful that we’re nearing the end.”