INDIANAPOLIS — A critic of USA Swimming's response to a sexual abuse scandal was banned from coaching for two years by the sport's national governing body Tuesday after admitting he violated the conduct code.
Ken Stopkotte, the former Fishers Area Swimming Tigers coach, admitted he had entered times achieved by some swimmers in high school meets as the actual results for three club meets in February. Those meets were sanctioned by USA Swimming.
The deal, announced by Indiana Swimming, bans Stopkotte from USA Swimming membership for two years and Indiana Swimming membership for five years. The penalties will prohibit Stopkotte from coaching anywhere in the U.S. for two years, and any teams based in Indiana for an additional three years.
The two sides were scheduled to meet with an arbitrator Monday.
Stopkotte refused to be silenced by the punishment.
"USA Swimming has succeeded in removing me from coaching, but they will not succeed in silencing me from advocating on behalf of children that are sexually molested due to USA Swimming's inadequate policies, procedures and background checks," he said.
A number of lawsuits aound the country alleged that USA Swimming covered up wrongdoing and allowed a culture of abuse to exist in coaching ranks. USA Swimming has said it took steps to keep young athletes safe; at least 46 coaches and officials have been banned for life, mostly for sexual misconduct.
Stopkotte claimed he got into trouble with the sanctioning bodies after discussing an alleged culture of sexual abuse during ABC's "20/20" news program. As part of the agreement, an attorney for Indiana Swimming said Stopkotte was required to admit the investigation was not intended as retaliation for those comments.
According to the complaint filed in March, Stopkotte altered 180 swim times – including 31 that had been disqualified – or inserted them into the final results. Indiana Swimming said in a statement that the governing bodies had never seen "violations of this type or magnitude."
Stopkotte denied any wrongdoing then, and though his words changed Tuesday, the sentiment did not.
"I admit that I took an administrative shortcut in submitting times and that I merged actual times achieved in high school meets into USA Swimming-sanctioned meets in February," he said. "I think it's sad and pathetic that USA Swimming and Indiana Swimming are more interested in timing than in protecting the young children that continue to be placed at risk by a culture that protects coaches at the expense of young swimmers."
Attorney Tom Schultz contends Stopkotte's critiques have nothing to do with what transpired in February.
The duplicate times prompted another coach in Northern Indiana to contact Indiana Swimming, which filed a formal complaint on March 22.
"He's used that as a cover for this from Day 1," said Schultz, the attorney for Indiana Swimming in this case. "He stipulated in our agreement that this agreement had nothing to do with what he said or what he did. So for him to issue that statement is sad."
In the agreement, Stopkotte admits he was "solely" responsible for the fraud, deception and dishonesty, Indiana Swimming said. Stopkotte agreed to both bans and also faces financial penalties. Financial terms were not disclosed.
"The financial penalties involved were important to Indiana Swimming to ensure that the members of Indiana Swimming did not bear the burden of adjudicating this valid complaint," Indiana Swimming said in a statement. "It is unfortunate that Stopkotte chose to deceive not only Indiana Swimming and its member swimmers but also his own swimmers and parents."
In a separate agreement, FAST agreed to pay an undisclosed financial penalty for the three swim meets and refrain from hosting any sanctioned meets until meet workers complete a workshop on meet management. That is expected to be completed before the club's scheduled invitational in October at Fishers High School.
FAST board members will also be required to attend workshops on swim club leadership and governance.