Michigan ends relationship with former USA gym exec, UF coach Faehn

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The University of Michigan has hired former USA Gymnastics executive Rhonda Faehn as a women’s gymnastics coaching consultant. The move was announced Saturday after The Michigan Daily reported the hire earlier in the day. [The Associated Press]

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The University of Michigan ended its relationship with former USA gymnastics executive Rhonda Faehn on Sunday, three days after she agreed to work as a coaching consultant for the women’s team.

“I have come to the conclusion that it is not in the best interest of the University of Michigan and our athletic program to continue the consulting contract with Rhonda Faehn,” athletic director Warde Manuel said in a statement. “It was the wrong decision, and I apologize. Our student-athletes are our highest priority and I want to do everything in my power to support them fully and put the focus back on their athletic performance.”

USA Gymnastics parted ways with Faehn as senior vice president in May after she was criticized by victims of Larry Nassar, the former national team doctor serving decades in prison for abusing athletes.

Faehn was with the Wolverines for a meet at Alabama on Friday.

On Saturday, Manuel said he supported the hiring recommendation made by gymnastics coach Bev Plocki after reviewing her role with USA Gymnastics and her coaching career.

USA Gymnastics hired Faehn in 2015 and she oversaw the women’s elite program, drawing on her experience as a U.S. national team member in the 1980s and a three-time national championship coach at Florida (2013-15).

Faehn was alerted to potential abuse concerns about Nassar. She passed along the concerns to then-USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny, who was later arrested on charges he ordered files pertaining to Nassar removed from the team’s training center at the Karolyi Ranch in Texas.

Aly Raisman, a six-time Olympic medalist, raised concerns recently about Faehn’s role in the matter. Raisman said she wasn’t sure why Faehn did not go to authorities herself.

The organization conducted an internal investigation before removing Nassar and going to federal authorities. USA Gymnastics did not alert Michigan State, where Nassar was a faculty member, or a club in Michigan affiliated with Nassar. He pleaded guilty to molesting women and girls under the guise of treatment and was caught with child pornography. He is serving three prison sentences and will likely be locked up for life.

Michigan State reached a $500 million settlement with hundreds of Nassar’s victims. While USA Gymnastics has been hit with multiple lawsuits from victims, Faehn has not been personally named in any of them unlike Penny and longtime national team coordinator Martha Karolyi.

20 COMMENTS

  1. We should have rehired her. She is by far the best Gymnastics coach in the country. She took us to greatness. The current coach we have always lost to Faehn and she never had a breakthrough at her last stop. She’s doing the same here; close, but no prize. Always a good coach but never a winner like Faehn. Faehn was done dirty by the USA Gymnastics,used as a scapegoat even though she had been there such a short time. At the very least we should have hired her as a consultant.

      • What? Are you two daft? Chain of command for illegal acts. You guys are nutz. Going thru the “chain of command” is what lead to disaster for Michigan State. Talk about being tone deaf. Ask the kids molested at PSU about the “chain of command”. SMH

        • Youre an idiot! You work in an organization with an hierarchy, you dont go to the police yourself unless you want to be fired! She did EXACTly what she was supposed to do. She told her boss, it was his responsibility to deal with everything. The unfortunate fact that he played politics and decided to cover it up means Nothing regarding her or anyone else that worked for USA Gymnastics! No organization is going to allow all the indians running around doing what they want, it is the Chiefs job to do that. This had been going on for years and she had just gotten there! Yet they decided to make a scapegoat of the new employee and now she is being blackballed for a situation she had nothing to do with and that had been going on a long time before she got there. Aly Raisman wants to complain about Faehn yet why didnt SHE go to the police? She wasnt part of the leadership, maybe she was afraid of being blackballed by USA Gymnastics, so she kept her mouth shut yet wants to complain about a great coach and a wonderful person Coach Faehn for not doing what she didnt do! She waited til Nichols and others came forward 1st before she jumped on the MeTo train, yet has the gall to criticise Faehn! Faehn had no knowledge of the coverup, if she did Im sure she would have taken further actions. She loved the girls she worked with and wouldnt want any harm to come to them.

  2. She did the right thing.David you are assuming she had actual knowledge of a crime. She is hearing things second hand and did the appropriate thing by reporting them to the persons responsible for handling it. Hind sight bias is always 20/20. She did not have the benefit of Jan.14, 2019 in her brain at the time. If it turned out the guy was innocent , then people would have criticized her jumping the gun and ruining a man’s life and career. For people who are victims like Raisman, nothing is ever soon enough or fast enough. I don’t blame her; that’s the natural human reaction. Michigan did this not because it was the right thing to do. They did it because it was the PR thing to do. Nasser was the pig in all this.

    • No she did not. Nasser was not the only pig in this and no, she did not have to have first hand knowledge of a crime. Again, this is the mindset that allows pedophilia to thrive.

      Let me ask you this, your child comes to you and tells you their best friend is being sexually abused by the dad. What do you do, go tell the kid’s mom?

      Faehn was SENIOR vice president and in charge of the women’s programs, not some lacky in the trenches. She had a responsibility to protect the athletes much better than she did. She has displayed an amazing lack of good judgment.

      • It depends on the kid’s credibility and the circumstances as I know it and what information the kid has, whether he has cried wolf beofre. I am not going to go on a witch hunt. And that is not the same scenario with this woman. There is nothing in this article that says a damn thing about her complicity other than Raisman’s concerns. pedophiles don’t exactly do things in the light. this had been going on for years and n one knew it . If you have some evidence to suggest otherwise, then share it. I have seen many people falsely accused of crimes they didn’t commit just bc they knew someone who did. So by your logic, Greg Schiano was also guilty simply bc he was part of the program . Again if there is some real info out here, that is another thing. An association is not evidence of guilt. The truth, whatever that is, comes first–good , bad , ugly or popular or unpopular.

  3. Nassar is the biggest scum in that mess, and should be executed. There are others that helped feed his sick acts by not reporting what they knew. I don’t know the details on just how much Faehn knew, but you can bet it will be used against her in recruiting if she ever gets another college job, which I doubt now.

  4. Faehn coached the Gators to their national championship in late April, and started her job at USA Gymnastics on May 11, 2015. In June, about a month into her new job, in June, she learned of the allegations against Nassar and immediately reported it to her boss, Steve Penny. Steve Penny told her that he would alert the proper authorities, which Faehn believed was the police.

    On July 13, Penny sent an email to Faehn telling her to arrange for a USA consultant to conduct 1:1 interviews with 3 gymnasts who had complained. Faehn did not want the interviews to occur without their parents or coaches knowledge, and refused to do so. A week later, on July 21, Penny sent an email to Faehn, 2 other USA Gymnastics executives, and 3 board members, instructing them to not discuss the matter with anyone until further notice, that USA Gymnastics was going to discontinue their relationship with Nassar the next day. A week later Penny notified the FBI.

    The FBI appeared to take no action for nearly a year, a fact that has yet to be explained.

    In a nutshell, around 1 month into her new job, she learned of these horrendous allegations and told her boss, who led her to believe that he was contacting the police. 2 weeks later she gets a disturbing email from her boss and she refuses his instructions. 2 weeks later the FBI is notified.

    None of Faehn’s actions are indicative of any wrongdoing or cover-up. She was a new employee who trusted her new boss to do the right thing. 6 weeks into the job she became concerned that he MIGHT not be doing the right thing, and 2 weeks after that, the FBI is notified.

    Faehn wasn’t fired as this was all coming to light. She was fired once she told her boss, the new USA Gymnastics president (Katie Perry), in 2018, that she was going to agree to testify before Congress (she was subpoened) rather than fight it. Perry fired Faehn after this, without explanation, saying that USA Gymnastics needed to “move on”. It appears that Perry knew that Faehn was going to say things that put USA Gymnastics in a bad light, and wanted to distance themselves from it.

    In short, Faehn was a scapegoat. The University of Michigan looked into everything before hiring Faehn as a consultant, and were confident that Rhonda did nothing wrong. It wasn’t until Olympic medalist Aly Raisman expressed concerns that Faehn should have gone to the authorities sooner that UM decided they didn’t want any negative press and “un-hired Faehn.

    Raisman, and many others are victims of the horrific crimes committed by Nasser. Faehn is a victim of the cover-up perpetuated by Steve Penny.

    • My question would be how did she “learn of the horrendous allegations”? If someone told her a rumor its different than an alleged victim telling her. Unfortunately for Faehn the current climate of women coming forward with allegations from years ago is against her. Nobody wants the possible bad PR from just the allegations.

      • Faehn didn’t hear it firsthand from the victims, she heard it from the coach, Sarah Jantzi, of 2 of the victims. So I wouldn’t call it a rumor, she wasn’t told directly by the victims, either.

        Sparky, you are right about the PR angle. Rhonda was looked at as part of the solution in the wake of the Nassar cover-up, and was never perceived by USA Gymnastics to be part of the problem, which is why Rhonda was still with USA Gymnastics 2 years after the allegations were made. It wasn’t until the president of USA Gymnastics saw a continuation of the USA Gymnastics PR problem by Rhonda testifying and fully cooperating that Rhonda was fired.

      • I disagree. Nothing in this synopsis indicates Faehn took any action other than notifying Penny. Nothing indicates she followed up in any way. That is negligence. ESPECIALLY since she is female, head of the women’s program and knows how vulnerable a young female can be. Yes, she is partially a victim of circumstance, but mostly she is guilty of bad judgment and I think someone at UM finally recognized that.

        There is not way of knowing what conversations occurred between Faehn and UM over this issue. One would hope that Faehn could own and learn from her mistake and get back into coaching. But that is on her.

        • David, it just seemed that you were pretty quick in wanting her head on a platter, before due process or all the facts were out. I’m not sure she made an egregious mistake, or will ever be given a chance to get back into coaching now that she has been so tainted.

        • You are the only one here guilty of BAD judgement, and Faehn made NO mistake! You remind me of these wacko nut liberals we see at all these protests nowadays, crying and screaming and havent got a bit of sense! You SLANDER a very fine lady and great coach who career has been ruined by the wacko thinking that you exhibit!

  5. Wow…I have always held Ms. Faehn in high regard and see no reason to change that opinion now.
    David, take off your “gotta slay Goliath” pants until there is some EVIDENCE of guilt. Your insistence on SPECULATION in assuming her complicity smacks of some agenda OTHER than seeking truth. It seems to me that your passion in taking this path may indicate that some personal history is driving your position????

  6. No1g8r, great exposition of key details missing from this AP article as it pertains to Coach Faehn, especially timelines.

    In retrospective, it’s always easy to know what should have been done, when and by whom. As a victim, Aly Raisman has unique perspective into the issue, people and organizations.

    Those in the world of gymnastics know Rhonda Faehn. It’s the uninformed public that will not take the time to understand the nuances of the situation and how it resulted in this decision by UM to not retain Faehn as a consultant. I don’t think it will have much bearing on her professional future.