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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Red Rocks Coach Tom Farden and the U ‘agree to part ways’

With Farden out, Carly Dockendorf has been named interim head coach of the Red Rocks.
Utah+Red+Rocks+head+coach+Tom+Farden+in+the+meet+versus+LSU+Tigers+at+the+Jon+M.+Huntsman+Center+in+Salt+Lake+City%2C+Utah%2C+on+Jan.+6%2C+2023.+%28Photo+by+Xiangyao+Axe+Tang+%7C+The+Daily+Utah+Chronicle%29
Xiangyao Tang
Utah Red Rocks’ head coach Tom Farden in the meet versus LSU Tigers at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Jan. 6, 2023. (Photo by Xiangyao “Axe” Tang | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

 

The University of Utah and head gymnastics coach Tom Farden have agreed to mutually part ways, weeks after an independent investigation. After allegations of emotional and verbal abuse, Farden was found innocent under the investigation.

“Coach Farden did not engage in any severe, pervasive, or egregious acts of emotional or verbal abuse of student-athletes,” the investigation concluded.

Soon after the investigative report was released, Olympic gymnast and Utah Red Rock Kara Eaker announced her retirement from gymnastics. Eaker stated that she believed the investigation omitted “crucial evidence and information,” alleging she was “attacked, humiliated, degraded, and yelled at to the point of tears in front of the whole team.”

Eaker was soon supported by former Utah gymnast Kim Tessen, who related to Eaker and sympathized with all athletes in similar scenarios. While Eaker did not name a specific coach, Tessen referred to Farden directly several times in her post.

Farden was just Utah’s second head coach. Greg Marsden founded the Red Rocks program, coaching from 1976-2015. Farden, an assistant coach under Marsden, served as co-head coach with Megan Marsden from 2015-19 before becoming the sole head coach.

During Farden’s time with Utah, he led the team to a 182-48-1 record, including three consecutive third place finishes at the NCAA gymnastics championships.

“I want to acknowledge the tremendous contributions Tom has made both as an assistant and head coach for the Red Rocks, and the significant accomplishments of the program in which he has played a key role,” said Mark Harlan, Utah Director of Athletics, in the announcement.

With Farden out, Carly Dockendorf has been named interim head coach of the Red Rocks.

“I am grateful that Carly Dockendorf has stepped in as the interim head coach of our gymnastics program, and I am confident that she will provide tremendous leadership for the student-athletes as they strive to reach their championship goals this season,” Harlan said.

Amidst all of the chaos, the Red Rocks look to continue the culture of winning that the program has built. With coaching changes and many gymnasts leaving the program, the Red Rocks certainly have a rough road ahead.

“Changes like this are never easy, and only come after extensive analysis and discussion,” Harlan said. “In this case, the decision provides necessary clarity and stability for our student-athletes and prevents further distraction from their upcoming season.”

The Red Rocks are the only team in the nation to qualify for all 47 national championships, looking to qualify for their 48th consecutive national championship this year.

The team will start their season with the annual Red Rocks Preview on Dec. 15 before hosting Boise State on Jan. 5. They will also compete in ESPN’s first invitational, facing LSU, UCLA and Oklahoma at the Maverik Center on Jan. 13.

“I am immensely proud of the young women who have poured their hearts and souls into Utah gymnastics during my time here and who have brought so much to this community,” Farden said in his own statement.  “It has truly been an honor to coach them, and I extend my heartfelt thanks and wishes for their continued success, now and in the years to come.”

 

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@seanoverton3

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About the Contributors
Sean Overton, Sports Editor
Sean Overton is the Editor of the Sports Desk. He is currently a senior and is majoring in Business Administration with plans to attend law school.
Xiangyao Tang, Photo Director
Axe is a photographer and the photo director of the Daily Utah Chronicle. He is from China and is a senior majoring in computer science and minoring in digital photography. Axe joined the Chronicle in August of 2021. In addition to his position at the Chrony, he is also a photo intern for University of Utah Athletics. When he's not writing code, you will find him rock climbing, camping, skiing or hiking with his camera.

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