ASU swim coach sent inappropriate messages to former female swimmer

Bob Bowman confirmed that he sent inappropriate text messages to a former Olympic swimmer

ASU swim head coach Bob Bowman is under fire after he confirmed that he sent inappropriate text messages to former Olympic swimmer Caroline Burckle in 2011. 

The report, which first came about through a story in the Orange County Register, said that Burckle received text messages and a voicemail in May 2011 from Bowman’s phone.

According to USA Today, Bowman was one of two men who sent the sexually-driven messages, with the other man being former U.S. national coach Sean Hutchinson. Hutchinson is also currently under investigation by the Department of Homeland Security after claims that he sexually assaulted former World Champion swimmer Ariana Kukors when she was 16. 

Despite the text messages occurring in 2011, Bowman was hired by ASU in 2015, and he was named to the team USA swimming coaching staff in 2012. On Tuesday, Bowman confirmed his involvement in the messages to ASU Vice President of Athletics Ray Anderson, according to the Arizona Republic.

In a statement from Anderson via a letter to Bowman, he stated that the “Text message exchange was inappropriate and unprofessional and that no such incidents will be tolerated at ASU.”

No official actions or disciplines have yet been taken by the ASU athletic department with Bowman.

Bowman, who is most commonly renowned as the man who coached 28-time Olympic medalist Michael Phelps, later apologized to Burckle while next to former USA Swimming national team director Frank Busch.

In 2011, Burckle had just recently retired from swimming in 2010.

“They were so aggressive,” Burckle told the Orange County Register last week of the messages. 

“I was disgusted,” Burckle said. “I felt violated, felt sad too. This was a sport that I had just left and loved and so I felt very sad.”

The text messages have not been released to the public. On Monday, Bowman issued this statement:

“I regret the exercise of poor judgment in being involved one evening seven years ago with inappropriate communications,” Bowman said. “I promptly apologized to the person to whom the communications were sent and my apology was accepted. I have nothing further to say at this time.”

The report also surfaces just a week after 141 former and current female gymnasts made a powerful message at ESPN’s ESPY Awards on the conduct and regulations regarding sexual assault and harassment.

The group, which included Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman, stood together to detail their abuse from former team USA Olympic team doctor Larry Nassar.


In a new era where sexual assault and displays of harassment have come out of the shadows and into the light for all to see, ASU certainly has a decision to make with how they want to go about this situation.

Based on what ASU president Michael Crow said about sexual assault in an interview with the Arizona Republic in March, there is reason to believe that the university will respond sooner, rather than later.

"It's zero tolerance,” Crow said. “You can't always prevent something from happening, but you can take immediate action the second you hear about it.

"If we heard from someone complaints of physical abuse, sexual abuse, inappropriate conduct, the first thing we would do is investigate," he said. "If it turns out these things were true, all those people would be turned over to the police or fired."


Reach the reporter at atbell1@asu.edu or follow @AndrewBell7 on Twitter.

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