Kara Eaker announces retirement, citing abuse from an unnamed male coach
Content warning: This section contains mention of bullying, suicidal ideation, and verbal and emotional abuse.
The GIST: On Friday, Red Rocks junior and two-time Team USA World Champion Kara Eaker, a member of Utah’s 2023 national third-place squad, announced her retirement from women’s gymnastics and her withdrawal from the university, citing abuse from an unnamed male coach.
The statement: In a lengthy Instagram post, Eaker detailed verbal and emotional abuses, intimidation, manipulation, and public humiliation. She alleges that attempts to directly address the bullying led to her being blamed or gaslit, while her reports and meetings with athletic department personnel were “completely dismissed.” Horrifying.
- The last two years of abuse caused Eaker severe anxiety, panic attacks, and even suicidal ideation, requiring ongoing mental health support and forcing her exit from the sport and the institution.
The investigation: Eaker’s not the only one speaking out against the Red Rocks’ leadership. Multiple former gymnasts, parents of gymnasts, and even ex-staffers reported that HC Tom Farden fostered a dangerous, toxic, and abusive environment, causing the university to initiate an external, independent investigation over the summer.
- That investigation, which wrapped last month, did not find “severe, pervasive or egregious” abuse, but did find degrading commentary that would be a violation — except each behind-closed-doors instance could not be corroborated. Because of course.
What’s next: Given the outcome of the investigation — which Eaker calls “incomplete at best” — a potential Farden ousting is unlikely, but Eaker hasn’t given up hope. Instead, she’s imploring others to “speak out and stand up” to “stop the cycle of abuse and the men who threaten girls and women in all sports.” Hero-level sh!t.