Athletes' Complaints Emerge

May 31, 2018

On Friday, May 18, Greg Metcalf resigned from his position as Head Track and Field Coach for the University of Washington, the day after some of his upperclassmen distance runners shared complains about him with school administration.

According to The Daily, the athletic department described Metcalf's departure as a “mutual separation.” Carter Henderson, Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Relations, sent a statement to The Daily.

“On the morning of Thursday, May 17, University of Washington athletic department officials were made aware of student-athletes’ concerns of potential misconduct regarding Coach Greg Metcalf,” he wrote. “As per departmental policy, athletic officials initiated appropriate processes immediately. In a meeting with athletic department personnel later that afternoon, Coach Metcalf determined that it was in the best interest of the program for him to step away from his position as head coach.”

Sumner Goodwin, a runner who transferred to UW from Gonzaga in 2015, and graduated this year, said Metcalf put pressure on athletes to lose weight, even if doing so was unhealthy.

“For me, I’m 6’3” and I’m 150 pounds and I’ve been like that all of college,” Goodwin said. “My body fat is 2.1 [percent]. If I was running poorly during a workout he’d come up to me and be like ‘Sumner Goodwin, how’re you doing?’ and touch my belly and feel my belly to see if there was any fat there. That was definitely a thing.”

Aaron Schlossman, a senior at UW who quit the track team after the 2016 season, said this had adverse consequences for the team.

“These are runners who are putting in 60 to 80 miles a week and probably not eating enough, and they’re telling them to eat less or eat different, and usually a solid third of the girls’ team was out on injuries because their bodies were just not able to keep up,” Schlossman, said.

Goodwin described the team as being like “a police state” under Metcalf, with student-athletes encouraged to report each other to the coach.

“I couldn’t really trust my teammates because if I did any small thing they’d report it to Metcalf,” Goodwin said. “The smallest things, from nutrition to what I did Friday night or Saturday night would be reported.”

Jamie Coughlin, who was on the team in 2015, quit after his freshmen year. Among other things, he said he did not enjoy the culture Metcalf had created.

“A metaphor that was often thrown around was that he was just sort of throwing as many eggs at the wall as he can and seeing which ones would break,” Coughlin said. “He really pushed a lot of athletes to deteriorating. Which is what distance running is; it’s about toeing that line, but sometimes it seemed Metcalf would be willing to risk people's health in order to have a strong team.”

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