Swim coach notified of pending lifetime ban - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Swim coach notified of pending lifetime ban

Swim coach Mark Walker Swim coach Mark Walker

The Channel 4 I-Team has confirmed that popular local swim coach Mark Walker has been notified by USA Swimming that they intend to ban him from coaching for life.

Walker's attorney said his client is appealing the decision and denies any allegations of inappropriate behavior with a former student.

Walker was the former CEO and head coach for Excel Aquatics. After USA Swimming notified Walker of their intention to ban him, he was terminated from Excel in May.

A spokesman for USA Swimming would not comment on why they intend to ban Walker, but a spokesman for Metro police confirmed that in January two men came to police with complaints that Walker sexually abused them as young swimmers.

Metro police spokesman Don Aaron said the FBI was alerted because swim trips were taken out of state.

Aaron said because the alleged abuse happened more than 20 years ago, the statute of limitations had passed and the case was cleared.

Walker's attorney Tom Wiseman sent the Channel I-Team a statement, reading in part: "A complaint was submitted to USA Swimming by an individual making accusations against Mr. Walker about events that allegedly occurred more than 23 years ago. The allegations against Mr. Walker are untrue, and USA Swimming has granted him an appeal to contest those allegations."

The Board of Directors at Excel Aquatics also sent a statement reading in part: "After communicating with Mark and his attorney, the board felt it was appropriate to separate Mark from the team officially, and Mark's employment was terminated at the end of May 2014."

The Channel 4 I-Team went to triathlete and former competitor in USA Swimming meets Brian Gennari to understand why coaches worry about appearing on USA Swimming's online list of banned coaches.

"If you look at the total number of people on this banned list, as opposed to the total number of coaches out there, it's a pretty select group. And I think it's not something you can easily put on," Gennari said.

USA Swimming is now reviewing Walker's appeal.

"Once they get all the right information, they're going to make all the right decisions. It's just getting to that point," Gennari said.

Scott Leightman, spokesman for USA Swimming, said in a statement: "USA Swimming is deeply committed to the safety and welfare of all its members. It is the mission of the safe sport program to increase awareness to reduce the risk for abuse in sport and our organization has no tolerance for violations of our code of conduct."

Again, Walker was never charged and never convicted of any crime and denies the allegations.

Channel 4 will keep you updated on USA Swimming's decision.

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