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Trouble with Title IX: UMBC’s Negligence in Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Case of Swim and Dive Head Coach

This is a developing story. As needed, updates will be posted on The Retriever website and in future print issues.

On March 18th, the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) investigation of UMBC compliance with Title IX regarding a former head coach of the swimming and diving team. This investigation focused on the five year time period of 2015-2020, in light of the inappropriate behavior of the head coach, Chad Cradock. However, Cradock had served in this position for about twenty years. 

According to the DOJ’s 14 page document detailing the abuse that the swimmers and divers faced, the head coach sexually abused and harassed male team members, as well as committed gender based discrimination towards the female members.

Cradock was well respected in the eyes of many, due to his tendency to win and bring revenue to the team, even being nicknamed, “Mr. UMBC.” However, the report on what went on behind the scenes is especially heinous. 

Not only did the DOJ publish findings of abuse towards the swimmers from Cradock, they also reported negligence on the athletics department, and their desire to protect the head coach from ridicule and legal action. 

Reports from students go back to June 29th 2015, when an anonymous tip from a student read, “a coach or athletic [department] staff member…has been seen removing an electronic device (camera) from this locker…He is a real creep and makes us students uncomfortable. Help!” 

Although five Athletic Department staff members read this letter, nobody took the measures to contact the Title IX office. Two of said staff members removed Cradock’s backpack from the locker, and proceeded to warn him that the University police were continuing with an investigation. 

On July 6th, 2015, there was no camera found in the locker.

Instances similar to this were published in the DOJ report, in which athletics department staff was warned about inappropriate behavior of the head coach, and Title IX was not notified, leading to at least five more years of sexual harassment. 

The students affected were reportedly subjected to nonconsensual hugging, kissing, and sexual touching. Additionally, the students who endured this behavior didn’t come out about the abuse in fear of losing scholarships, housing and valuable coaching as well as ostracization from the team.

In 2019 when another male student reported nonconsensual hugging and kissing, the athletics department staffers shared this report to several staff members including their supervisors, and Title IX was not notified of the report. However the head coach was again warned of the allegation. The student was in return, ostracized by the team, and denied further coaching from Cradock.  

Unfortunately, action was not taken until 2020.

The DOJ report says, “It was not until November 2020, when a group of male and female student-athletes came forward to athletics staff and the Title IX Office to report sex discrimination by the Head Coach, that the University took any action to investigate these allegations of sexual misconduct”

While Cradock was sexually harassing male members, the female members were subjected to a hypersexualized environment, from the male athletes. Body shaming, sexual harassment, and domestic violence were all reported by the female athletes, all of which went on with no consequences to the perpetrators. 

Cradock had encouraged inter-team dating, as well as discussions about student-athletes’ sex and dating lives, therefore giving him manipulative control over team members, which allowed him to heavily victim shame. 

An anonymous female athlete stated in the DOJ report, “Our coaches knew everything: who you were sleeping with, what you were eating…it was controlling and toxic.”

Several female members had told the DOJ during their investigation about their struggles with mental health, eating disorders and anxiety during their time on the team.

Cradock had also ignored dating violence towards female members and routinely blamed them for the actions of the male athletes. He reportedly tried to incorrectly mediate abusive situations in relationships instead of reporting to Title IX. 

One instance of this was in the winter of 2019, where a female athlete was violently attacked by a male team member in his off-campus apartment. This attack was overheard and witnessed by other athletes as well.

Cradock largely dismissed the attack, citing concerns about the perpetrator’s mental health. Cradock directed the male athlete to services and resources, but not for the female athlete.

Additionally, the DOJ reports that “the Head Coach directed the student-athletes to not report the incident to the Title IX Office, claiming that when the Title IX Office was involved the last time, it was detrimental to the team.”

In October 2020, male and female members of the swimming and diving team coordinated a collective report to the Title IX office, evidently opening up the investigation.

Sometime in the fall of 2020, UMBC placed Cradock on leave, banned him from campus, and allowed him to retire in December of 2020. 

Several months later, once the amended notice of allegations had reached the head coach, Chad Cradock committed suicide.  

The DOJ concluded that UMBC had not properly handled the misconduct. Although Freeman A. Hrabowski was acting president during Cradock’s time at UMBC, as well as during most of the investigation, current president Valerie Sheares Ashby has had the responsibility to sadly inform all students and staff about the findings of the DOJ. On March 18th, Ashby released a video reviewing the findings of the investigation.

Additionally, a $4.1 million settlement has now been proposed in a federal lawsuit for the former members of the swimming and diving team.

The Retriever has reached out for a statement from the office of President Sheares Ashby and UMBC’s Student Government Association (SGA).

Kacey Hammel, the Chief of Staff to President Sheares Ashby responds to The Retriever’s statement request with, “UMBC takes full responsibility for the breakdown in Title IX enforcement between 2015 and 2020 that the Department of Justice investigation identified. We deeply regret the pain this caused for students who were directly impacted by the misconduct. The university is working to strengthen our Title IX policies and processes, and we are committed to doing all we can to ensure the safety and well-being of all students.” 

Musa Jafri, UMBC’s SGA President states to The Retriever, “SGA is horrified by the findings in the DOJ report and will not accept this as the norm on campus. SGA honors the strength and courage of the UMBC swimmers who spoke out. We recognize that there is a lot of work that needs to be done across our campus in order to live up to our goal of being a safe and inclusive campus for all.”

The Retriever Student – Run Newspaper condemns any sexual misconduct and works towards full compliance with Title IX rules and regulations. We are saddened and disturbed by the findings of the United States Department of Justice, but proud of the brave UMBC student-athletes who chose to speak out about their experiences. We hope to see further action be taken by UMBC administration in order to prevent anything like this happening again. 

If you or someone you know has faced sexual misconduct, please contact UMBC police at (410) 455 – 5555, or fill out an online report/referral at the Office of Equity and Civil Rights at

Arpa Shahnazarian is a mathematics and economics major at UMBC, and the Content Managing Editor at The Retriever. Contact Arpa at