Report: Lawsuit alleges Kentucky's 'complicity' in sexual violence case against former swim coach

NS_headshot_clearbackgroundby:Nick Schultz04/12/24


Two former members of the Kentucky swim team filed a lawsuit Friday against the school and former coach Lars Jorgensen, The Athletic’s Katie Strang reported. Jorgensen resigned from his position last June.

According to the complaint, the two former athletes accused Kentucky of “complicity” for enabling Jorgensen “to foster a toxic, sexually hostile environment within the swim program and to prey on, sexually harass, and commit horrific sexual assaults and violent rapes against young female coaches and collegiate athletes who were reliant on him.” The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. Eastern District Court of Kentucky against UK, Jorgensen, athletics director Mitch Barnhart and retired head swim coach Gary Conelly – Jorgensen’s predecessor.

Jorgensen denied the allegations in a phone interview with The Athletic.

 “None of that is true, so I don’t really have much further comment,” he said. “I’ve always tried to lead in a positive manner and do what’s best for each individual and the team overall.”

Jorgensen was Kentucky’s head swim coach from 2013 until his resignation in June 2023. Before that, he served as an assistant coach with the program before Conelly announced his retirement. Jorgensen was at the center of an NCAA investigation at the time, according to SwimSwam, which covers competitive swimming. He was effectively serving a “suspension,” the report said, after the NCAA looked into alleged compliance rules violations – which was not Jorgensen’s “first offense.”

Associate head coach Michael Camper also resigned at some point, SwimSwam reported.

In The Athletic’s detailed report, swim coaches at San Jose State went to their university’s Title IX officer in 2019 to report allegations they heard about Jorgensen – including a relationship with a swimmer at a prior job and a sexual assault accusation during his time at Kentucky. SJSU’s office then took it to UK.

Barnhart didn’t respond to The Athletic’s request for comment, and the university provided a brief statement on the matter, saying it takes those concerns “very seriously.”

“Mr. Jorgensen is no longer an employee of the University of Kentucky,” the statement read. “We do not, as a matter of policy, discuss specific personnel issues.”

Before he arrived at Kentucky, Jorgensen worked as a swim coach at LSU, Toledo and his alma mater, Tennessee. He was the Volunteers’ interim head coach at one point before heading to Kentucky in 2012.