Utah Gymnastics, Tom Farden Part Ways

Nov 21, 2023, 7:09 PM | Updated: 7:34 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – It’s been a tumultuous few months for the Utah Gymnastics team and now former head coach Tom Farden.

Utah Athletics announced Tuesday evening they have mutually parted ways with Farden after accusations of abuse surfaced at the end of August and led to a third-party investigation. The investigation eventually did not find any consistent instances of abuse.

In October two gymnasts Kara Eaker and Kim Tessen went public with their personal experiences. Eaker’s came first with an announcement she was retiring from the sport.


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Utah And Tom Farden Part Ways

Farden was put on administrative leave earlier this month after recent conduct and actions not related to student-athlete welfare surfaced. That has seemingly led to Utah’s final decision to part ways with Farden and move forward with Interim head coach Carly Dockendorf.

“The past several months have been an extremely challenging time for our gymnastics program,” Utah Athletic Director Mark Harlan said. “Changes like this are never easy, and only come after extensive analysis and discussion. In this case, the decision provides necessary clarity and stability for our student-athletes and prevents further distraction from their upcoming season. I want to acknowledge the tremendous contributions Tom has made both as an assistant and head coach for the Red Rocks, and the significant accomplishments of the program in which he has played a key role. I am grateful that Carly Dockendorf has stepped in as the interim head coach of our gymnastics program, and I am confident that she will provide tremendous leadership for the student-athletes as they strive to reach their championship goals this season.”

RELATED: Utah Gymnastics Coach Tom Farden Placed On Administrative Leave

RELATED: Utah Gymnast Kara Eaker Announces Retirement Citing Emotional Abuse

Tom Farden’s Time At Utah

Farden has held a coaching role at the University of Utah since 2010. He became a co- head coach alongside Megan Marsden in 2015 before fully taking over in as the sole head coach in 2020.

Under Farden’s watch Utah gymnastics 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 continued to make Nationals with three regional titles and three third place finishes at NCAAs.

“I am grateful to the University of Utah for the privilege of coaching its storied gymnastics program,” Farden said. “The University of Utah has been my home for a decade, and it is difficult to say goodbye, but the time has come for me to embark on a new chapter. I am immensely proud of the young women who have poured their hearts and souls into Utah gymnastics during my time here and who have brought so much to this community. It has truly been an honor to coach them, and I extend my heartfelt thanks and wishes for their continued success, now and in the years to come.”

A New Era Under Carly Dockendorf

Dockendorf has been with the Red Rocks for seven seasons starting as a volunteer coach in 2018 before moving to Director of Recruiting and Player Development in 2019.

Dockendorf was then promoted to assistant coach from 2020-2022 where she has been instrumental in preparing the Red Rocks for the vigor of competing on beam and has turned them into easily the best beam team in the country.

Utah’s up-and-coming coaching star had recently been promoted once more earlier in the year to associate head coach before now completely taking over for Farden.

Dockendorf brings unique coaching perspective to the Utes having spent nine years prior coaching at Seattle Pacific. Six of those years was spent as an assistant gymnastics coach (2009, 2013-17) while another three were spent as an assistant track and field coach (2010-12).

Dockendorf took a three-year break from gymnastics in 2010-12 to train for a berth on the Canadian Olympic team in the pole vault.  She missed making the team but did break the Canadian indoor pole vault record by clearing 14’6″.

Reports Of Abuse Not Uncommon In Gymnastics

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.

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Michelle Bodkin is the Utah Utes Insider for 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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Utah Gymnastics, Tom Farden Part Ways