Utah Gymnastics Coach Tom Farden Placed On Administrative Leave

Nov 12, 2023, 8:44 PM | Updated: Nov 13, 2023, 3:24 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – The Univesity of Utah placed women’s gymnastics head coach Tom Farden on a paid administrative leave effective immediately.

Utah places Tom Farden on paid leave

The Utah athletic department issued the following statement on Sunday, November 12:

“The University of Utah has placed Head Gymnastics Coach Tom Farden on paid administrative leave effective immediately. This action comes 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 has agreed to serve as Interim Head Coach.”

Farden was 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.

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 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 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 unraveling 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.

2024 Utah Gymnastics Schedule

Red Rocks Preview on December 15 at 7 p.m. (MDT) on Utah Live Stream

vs. Boise State Broncos on January 5 at 7 p.m. on Utah Live Stream

ESPN Events Invitational at Maverik Center on January 13 at 2 p.m. on ABC

  • LSU Tigers
  • UCLA Bruins
  • Oklahoma Sooners

Rio Tinto Best of Utah at Maverik Center on January 15 at 4 p.m.

  • BYU Cougars
  • Southern Utah Thunderbirds
  • Utah State Aggies

vs. Arizona State Sun Devils on January 26 at 6 p.m. on Pac-12 Network

vs. Oregon State Beavers on February 2 at 6 p.m. on Pac-12 Network

@ Washington Huskies on February 10 at 1 p.m. on Pac-12 Network

@ UCLA Bruins on February 19 at 3:30 p.m.

vs. Stanford Cardinal on February 23 at 6 p.m. on Pac-12 Network

@ California Bears on March 2 at TBD

@ Arizona Wildcats on March 8 at TBD

vs. Utah State on March 15 at 7 p.m. on Utah Live Stream

Last season, the Red Rocks posted a 12-3 record, including 5-2 in conference action. Utah was a perfect 5-0 at home. The Utes finished in third place at the 2023 NCAA women’s gymnastics tournament.

Kyle Ireland is a Sports Producer and Locals in the NFL Insider for KSLSports.com. He’s also co-host of the Yards After College Podcast. Follow him on X/Twitter (@kyleireland), Instagram (@kyleirelandksl), and Threads (@kyleirelandksl).

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Utah Gymnastics Coach Tom Farden Placed On Administrative Leave