Coach Calls For Changes To System After Arrest
Coach Charged With Having Relationship 14-Year-Old Student
Last Updated: 1317 days ago
A central Indiana swim coach is calling for a better system for young athletes to report inappropriate conduct following the arrest of a man accused of having a relationship with a 14-year-old student.Christopher Wheat, 36, faces six counts of sexual misconduct with a minor and a single count of child solicitation after the girl, who had been coached by Wheat since she was 11, admitted having a relationship with Wheat in September.Wheat coached at Lawrence North High School and also coached for the private Lawrence Swim Team, overseen by Indiana Swimming.Fishers schools swimming coach Ken Stopkotte, who also sits on the board of Indiana Swimming, said he believes the organization and its parent organization, USA Swimming, needs clearer policies on how to deal with reports of misconduct."There needs to be specific direction as far as what's an inappropriate conversation with an athlete, what's an inappropriate text message or e-mail, what's inappropriate as far as touching," he said.Neither USA Swimming nor Indiana Swimming has a program to help athletes identify and report inappropriate conduct, but officials said they do perform background screening of all member coaches."I think we have a very strong history in the area of protecting and ensuring athletes, and we will always continue to make that a high priority and we will continue to have educational programs," said Pat Hogan, managing director for club development for USA Swimming.USA Swimming's rulebook directs athletes to file complaints in writing.The MSD of Lawrence Township also does not have a program to formally address the issue of identifying and reporting sexual misconduct."We really don't have a district-wide initiative on this issue. We don't have any systemic program," said spokeswoman Sharon Smith.Stopkotte said that he has not talked to his team about the Wheat case yet, but that he has talked to his young coaches about inappropriate conduct.