COLLEGE SPORTS

Tom Farden, Utah Gymnastics Under Investigation For Alleged Emotional Abuse

Aug 28, 2023, 4:16 PM

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah gymnastics head coach Tom Farden is under investigation for alleged emotional abuse as first reported by the Deseret News.

Utah has hired outside firm Husch Blackwell out of Kansas City to look into claims that Farden has been verbally and emotionally abusive in his coaching approach.

So far, five former Red Rocks have made allegations along with four parents, and two former staffers through Farden’s 23-year career. According to the Deseret News report, Farden also has many supporters including Sydney Soloski, Alexia Burch and Greg and Megan Marsden.

University administrators said the report will be made public once Utah has had a chance to review it.

A Statement From The University Of Utah

A Utah spokesperson issued a statement on the third-party investigation into Farden’s alleged behavior on Monday.

The well-being and safety of our student-athletes are of the utmost importance to the university and the athletics department, and we are committed to our student-athletes feeling respected, supported and safe. When issues are brought to our attention, it is our practice to conduct a thorough review to ensure that our practices and policies are being followed. I can confirm that an outside independent review of our gymnastics program has been underway.

Tom Farden’s Time With Utah Gymnastics

Farden was scouted by former legendary Red Rock coach Greg Marsden as shared by his wife and former co-coach Megan after her retirement from coaching the team.

In 2010 Farden joined the Marsden’s staff as an assistant coach. In 2015, Farden was upgraded to co-head coach with Megan after Greg retired. Megan retired after the 2019 gymnastics season, leaving the Red Rocks’ future fully in Farden’s hands nearly 10 years after Greg brought him on.

Under Farden’s watch Utah gymnastics has won every Pac-12 regular season title (outright in 2020 and 2021 and shared in 2022 and 2023) while also winning every Pac-12 Tournament Championship from 2021-2023.

The Red Rocks have continued to make Nationals with three regional titles and three third place finishes at NCAAs.

Reports Of Abuse Not Uncommon In Gymnastics

The sport of gymnastics as a whole has been under a microscope as of late with claims of various kinds of abuse being reported from all levels of the sport.

Perhaps the most notorious case comes from Team U.S.A. and Michigan State with the sexual abuse that occurred involving team doctor Larry Nassar and the Karolyis. The case spanned at least 14 years and involved more than 265 women.

Netflix’s “Athlete A” recently followed the unravelling of Nassar and U.S.A. gymnastics back in 2020 while mainly telling the story of former Oklahoma gymnast and Olympic hopeful Maggie Nichols.

In December of 2021, Nassar was found guilty with the survivors reaching a $380 million settlement with U.S.A. Gymnastics and the Olympic Committee. 

While what happened to Team U.S.A. is a particularly awful case, it still illustrates how easy it is for things to get out of hand due to the age of the athletes when they start and the competitive nature of the sport.

We will update this story as more information becomes available.

Michelle Bodkin is the Utah Utes Insider for KSLsports.com and host of both the Crimson Corner Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and The Saturday Show (Saturday from 10 a.m.–12 p.m.) on The KSL Sports Zone. Follow her on XInstagram, and Threads: @BodkinKSLsports

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Tom Farden, Utah Gymnastics Under Investigation For Alleged Emotional Abuse