Penn State has fired women’s gymnastics coach Jeff Thompson nine months after his wife Rachelle Thompson, then the co-head coach, stepped down.
In April 2016, Penn State’s student newspaper, The Daily Collegian, published a scathing article detailing alleged emotional abuse by the Thompsons during their time at Auburn and Penn State. The university launched an internal investigation after that.
One former gymnast, Shealyn Farley, said her time with the team almost led her to suicide before a teammate walked in and stopped her from swallowing a bottle of pills. There are five individual accounts of alleged mistreatment and abuse in the article.
After it was published, other gymnasts came to the defense of the Thompsons in PEOPLE Magazine.
“I call it tough love, I don’t consider anything that they have ever said to me to be abusive,” former Penn State gymnast Whitney Bencsko told PEOPLE. “Sometimes it takes a little bit of that raised voice to get things done.”
Assistant coaches Kera Molinaro and Josh Nilson will take over for the rest of the season and a national search for a new head coach will begin immediately, according to a press release from the school.
Thompson was in his seventh year as Penn State’s coach. He led the Nittany Lions to the NCAA Championships in 2014, ending a four-year drought.