May 25, 2018
bY Brent Schrotenboer
The diving coach at the University of Idaho was suspended for a sexual misconduct allegation less than a week before being named co-diving coach of the year in the Western Athletic Conference, according to records reviewed by USA TODAY Sports.
Jim Southerland, who joined the Idaho staff in 2015, was issued an interim suspension in February by the U.S. Center for SafeSport and USA Diving, the sport’s national governing body. Six days later, the WAC honored his accomplishments, unaware of the case against him as misconduct allegations continue to rock Olympic sports and now have added to similar issues at Idaho, where the athletic director last month was placed on leave.
In this case, the allegation involves an improper sexual relationship between Southerland and a female diver who had been under his tutelage near Seattle prior to 2010. It since has led to him being placed on leave at Idaho in April, enraging a fellow diving coach who said Southerland has fallen victim to “political witch-hunting” after major sex abuse scandals in gymnastics and other sports.
“There comes a point where the law swings too far one way,” said Bob Ketrick, a longtime colleague of Southerland who recently bought Southerland’s diving club business. “Before, there were no protections for kids. A lot of stuff was unreported. OK, so we made the system better, but (also created) … opportunity for people with vendettas to take advantage of a new system.”
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