Western Kentucky suspends swimming, diving programs

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. -- Western Kentucky suspended its swimming and diving programs for five years on Tuesday after the school and Bowling Green police found violations of Title IX sexual misconduct and assault, harassment and the student conduct code.

The action comes following multiple incidents of hazing, drug paraphernalia and sexual assault, according to reports obtained by the College Heights Herald. Western Kentucky's report determined head coach Bruce Marchionda knew about the hazing and sexual harassment incidents.

Hilltoppers athletes and coaches were told of the decision Tuesday morning by WKU president Gary Ransdell and athletic director Todd Stewart. Athletes can transfer to other schools or remain on campus, where their scholarships will be honored as long as they remain in good standing.

"We have high standards for student conduct and conduct of our student organizations," Ransdell said. "The pervasive culture of misconduct in the swimming and diving program is intolerable. A five-year suspension is both necessary and prudent."

The positions of Marchionda, assistant Brian Thomas and diving coach Chelsea Ale will be eliminated on June 30.

A release said complaints by a former team member led to an investigation by police and Title IX coordinator Huda Melky that found evidence of violations.

The university's release did not identify the team member or specify the violations but said the school's Judicial Affairs office will handle the alleged student conduct code violations.

"This is a very difficult and unfortunate decision on many levels," Stewart said in the release. "While many in the program have represented WKU with distinction, the overall findings of a consistent pattern of disappointing conduct is troubling and not acceptable at WKU."

The program's shutdown comes three years after Claire Donahue became WKU's first athlete to win an Olympic gold medal. She helped Team USA win the 4x100 medley relay in London.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.