University of Utah Women’s Gymnastics Head Coach Tom Farden Departs Amidst Investigation

Farden’s departure follows an investigation into his treatment of athletes, leading to a mutual agreement to part ways.

The University of Utah’s women’s gymnastics program is experiencing a significant change as head coach Tom Farden departs from his position. The university announced the decision following an investigation into Farden’s treatment of athletes, which resulted in his placement on paid administrative leave. The departure aims to provide clarity and stability for the student-athletes as they prepare for the upcoming season. Carly Dockendorf has stepped in as the interim head coach, ensuring continuity and leadership for the team’s pursuit of championship goals.

Investigation into Farden’s Conduct

Earlier this year, the University of Utah initiated an investigation into its gymnastics program after receiving allegations of abuse from former gymnasts and parents. The university hired the law firm Husch Blackwell to conduct the review, which aimed to assess Farden’s coaching methods and ensure the well-being of the athletes. The investigation concluded that while Farden’s coaching methods created increased fear of failure and pressure to retain scholarships, he did not engage in severe, pervasive, or egregious acts of abuse or harassment as defined by NCAA regulations and the U.S. Center for SafeSport.

Violation of University’s Well-Being Policy

The review did find one instance where Farden violated the university’s Student-Athlete Health, Safety, and Well-Being Program. He made a degrading comment to a gymnast, stating that if she were not at Utah, she would be a “nobody working at a gas station” in her hometown. The report deemed this comment as personally degrading and in violation of the Athletics’ Well-Being Policy, which prohibits the use of degrading language.

Recommendations for Farden’s Future

The review by Husch Blackwell provided five recommendations for Farden moving forward. These recommendations include creating and managing a performance improvement plan for Farden, emphasizing appropriate communication with athletes, leadership, and emotional intelligence. The report also suggested continued support for the role of the student-athlete advocate, involving parents in the gymnastics program while adhering to privacy regulations, ensuring clarity on athletics scholarships, and increasing oversight through regular meetings and attendance at practices.

Farden’s Response and Intentions

Following the release of the Husch Blackwell report, Farden expressed gratitude for his time coaching at the University of Utah and acknowledged the impact of his words and actions. He stated that he would take the lessons learned through the review process to heart and work towards improvement. However, in a recent interview with The Washington Post, Farden’s attorney stated that the coach has no intention of changing his coaching methods, dismissing the allegations of emotional and verbal abuse made by former gymnasts as false.

Interim Head Coach and Future Plans

Carly Dockendorf, the associate head coach of Utah’s gymnastics program, has been appointed as the interim head coach. The university has not made Dockendorf or any current gymnasts available for interviews regarding the recent developments. The team is preparing for the upcoming season, with their first meet scheduled for January 5 against Boise State. The annual Red Rocks Preview will take place on December 15.


The departure of Tom Farden as the head coach of the University of Utah’s women’s gymnastics program marks a significant change for the team. The university’s investigation into Farden’s treatment of athletes led to a mutual agreement to part ways, providing clarity and stability for the student-athletes. While the review did not find severe acts of abuse, it did identify a violation of the university’s well-being policy. The interim head coach, Carly Dockendorf, will guide the team as they strive for championship goals in the upcoming season. The university aims to implement recommendations for Farden’s future coaching practices, ensuring a healthy and supportive environment for the gymnasts.






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