Former Athletes Speak Out

June 12, 2018

After more than 30 years at UC Santa Barbara, Head Track and Field Coach Pete Dolan has been fired. Former athletes' letters allege verbal and psychological abuse. 

Alys Martinez, a reporter for keyt.com, obtained letters from student-athletes who attended UC Santa Barbara between 2010 and 2017. The letters, sent to John McCutcheon, Director of Athletics, and Kelly Barsky, Deputy Director, alleged that Dolan engaged in psychological and verbal abuse, such as suspending athletes for no reason and shaming female athletes into losing weight.

Katie Lee, a pole vaulter who graduated in 2015, wrote a letter. She said she was still traumatized by Dolan's treatment of her, and that she was glad he was no longer in his job.

"I couldn't believe someone who was coaching at a Division 1 Level was able to get away with it time and time again," Lee said. 

One female athlete alleged that after she ran 70 miles each week to lose weight, and lost five pounds, Dolan told her “I think you can lose more.”

"It's not ok to have someone's fat calibrated in the training room in front of everyone, every two weeks because he thinks that is going to help her lose weight," Lee said. 

Dolan's lawyers, from the Trygstad, Schwab & Trygstad firm, said Dolan denies any wrongdoing, and his methods were intended to get his athletes to perform at their best. They said that his coaching was "typical of the natural friction between a coach and competitive athlete."

Lee said that some student-athletes did well under Dolan.

"He was a great coach to some people. We had a lot of great athletes that came out of the program," Lee said. "I know there are a lot of people who respect him a lot. His coaching style worked for them."

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