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State set to pay $4.1M settlement for students abused by former UMBC swim, diving coach

Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

State officials are set to vote early next month on a proposed $4.1 million settlement with two groups of individuals who were abused by a former University of Maryland, Baltimore County swimming and diving coach. The proposed payment is part of the Board of Public Works agenda for April 3, which was posted Friday afternoon.

The settlement request comes from UMBC and the Office of the Attorney General after a U.S. Department of Justice Title IX investigation revealed this week that head coach Chad Cradock, who died in 2021, sexually and verbally abused members of the team for about five years.

Beyond the agenda item, few details of the settlement were immediately available Friday afternoon.

“If this settlement is approved, the Department of Justice will inform the individuals of the availability of the specific settlement payments to settle all claims against the University arising out of or related to sex discrimination at the University,” according to the April 3 board agenda.

In a statement provided to Maryland Matters on Friday evening, Kacey Hammel, chief of staff to UMBC President Valerie Sheares Ashby, said, “UMBC has cooperated with the DOJ every step of the way and is committed to meeting the terms of the agreement, including the financial relief for individuals. Subject to BPW approval, the payment of funds under the agreement will have no impact on student services, activities, or programs, nor on any aspect of the academic enterprise.”

The DOJ investigation alleges Cradock began to sexually abuse students on the men’s team starting in 2015.

The following year, members of the women’s team were harassed, stalked and subjected to “dating violence” by their male teammates.

In the DOJ letter addressed to Sheares Ashby, who began her tenure in August 2022, department officials said they conducted 70 interviews with former and current students, school administrators, staff with the athletic department and others.

The investigation that began in November 2020 focused on the school not complying with Title IX obligations “in its response to known allegations of sex discrimination in its athletics department.”

Title IX is a federal law passed in 1972 that combats discrimination based on sex among students and employees in education programs and activities.

Cradock was a UMBC alumnus from Canada who came to the school on a competitive swimming scholarship. He became head coach of the swimming and diving team in 2001, and served in that position until departing without public explanation in late 2020.

Cradock died on March 7, 2021, three days before his 47th birthday. No cause of death was publicly disclosed.

Unrelated to the DOJ investigation, UMBC’s Graduate Student Association will host a Title IX forum April 3, on the same day and more than six hours later than the Board of Public Works meeting.

“This event serves as an introduction of the Office of Equity and Civil Rights (ECR) to the student body. They oversee the office of Title IX,” according to a forum description. “This is a space where individuals are able to advocate for themselves or others for reform to our school’s Title IX policies and services individuals need related to issues like this.”

Seven UMBC alumni, including trailblazing House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D-Baltimore County) currently serve in the Maryland General Assembly. One of those alumni, Sen. Charles E. Sydnor III (D-Baltimore County), expressed his distress with the Cradock scandal on Friday.

“While this is a painful moment for the greater UMBC family, I cannot imagine how greater the pain must be for the students who were victimized,” said Sydnor, whose district incudes the UMBC campus and whose daughter attends the school. Sydnor received a Masters of Public Studies degree at the university in 2000.

“The United States Department of Justice’s Title IX findings were difficult to read and the University’s failure to properly respond to the harms suffered by our students are inexcusable,” he said in a statement Friday evening. “The students that were harmed deserved better than what they got. President Sheares Ashby committed to ensuring that failures like this ‘never happen again’ and that those who failed would be held to account. I take President Sheares Ashby at her word. I stand ready to support the students, President Sheares Ashby, and UMBC family.”

This breaking news story has been updated.


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State set to pay $4.1M settlement for students abused by former UMBC swim, diving coach