University of Utah gymnast retires from sport and withdraws as student, alleging abuse

Oct 20, 2023, 6:36 PM | Updated: 7:34 pm

Utah's Kara Eaker competes on the beam as No. 4 Utah takes on No. 5 UCLA at the Jon M. Huntsman Cen...

Utah's Kara Eaker competes on the beam as No. 4 Utah takes on No. 5 UCLA at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City on Friday, Feb. 3, 2023. (Laura Seitz/Deseret News)

(Laura Seitz/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — University of Utah women’s gymnast Kara Eaker announced on Friday her retirement from the sport and withdrawal from the university, alleging verbal and emotional abuse.

“For two years, while training with the Utah Gymnastics Team, I was a victim of verbal and emotional abuse,” a statement released by Eaker on Instagram read. “As a result, my physical, mental, and emotional health has rapidly declined.”

According to her statement, Eaker is now seeing a mental health provider “because of suicidal and self-harm ideation” and was recently diagnosed with mental health conditions including anxiety, depression and PTSD.

It was unclear whether Eaker’s claims of abuse were related to University of Utah women’s gymnastics coach Tom Farden, who was recently the subject of an independent investigation into claims of emotional and verbal abuse of student-athletes.

Investigation finds U of U gymnastics coach did not engage in ‘egregious’ abuse

The investigation, conducted by the Kansas City law firm Husch Blackwell, concluded in September that Farden had made a degrading comment to a student athlete in what it determined was an isolated incident, but that Farden had not engaged in “severe, pervasive or egregious acts of emotional or verbal abuse.” In her statement, Eaker described the investigation as “incomplete at best.”

Eaker is a two-time Pan American Games gold medalist and a two-time World Championships gold medalist. She was an Olympic alternate for the 2020 U.S. team.

Users on Instagram expressed their solidarity with Eaker and admiration for her courage in speaking out.

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University of Utah gymnast retires from sport and withdraws as student, alleging abuse