The University of Arizona continues its search for a new diving coach, one month after officials scuttled a new hire after his suspension by USA Diving.
The UA announced its hiring of John Appleman in early June, weeks after the school parted ways with former diving coach Omar Ojeda.
Appleman previously worked as the manager for the Ohio State University Diving Club and was a part of USA Diving’s coaching staff. Before that, he was a standout diver at George Mason University who competed for Team USA. Appleman’s pedigree was one of the reasons he was hired; UA coach Augie Busch cited Appleman’s “tremendous stature in the realm of USA junior diving” in a June news release. Busch also said he felt “aligned with him in terms of building team culture.”
USA Diving suspended Appleman on July 12 without citing a reason. Six days later, the UA posted an opening for the diving coach position on its online job listings. As of Tuesday, the post remained open.
UA spokesman Chris Sigurdson issued a statement to the Star that read: “The University of Arizona has rescinded an offer of employment to John Appleman, head coach of the Ohio State University diving club. Appleman was offered a position in April, but his employment was not finalized.”
The statement is identical to the one given to SwimSwam.com shortly after Appleman’s suspension. Sigurdson said the UA would have no further comment on the matter.
After the UA rescinded its offer, Appleman returned to the Ohio State staff. The school placed him on administrative leave on July 13, the day after USA Diving issued its suspension, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
USA Diving did not respond to the Star’s request for additional information about Appleman’s suspension. The day before it was issued, a federal class action lawsuit was filed against USA Diving, the Ohio State University Diving Club and former coach Will Bohonyi, saying that Bohonyi sexually abused 50 divers at Ohio State and USA Diving, including a minor.
The lawsuit says that Bohonyi forced the girl to perform oral sex on him on the Ohio State campus when she was 16 and the two had sex in Bohonyi’s Bethesda, Maryland hotel room during the Ohio State Diving Club’s national meet.
One of the victim’s teammates reported the abuse to Appleman in 2014, but neither Appleman nor the school took action, according to the lawsuit. Appleman is not named as a defendant in the suit.
Bohonyi has since been fired by Ohio State. He was permanently banned by USA Swimming in 2015.
Reporters from The Lantern, Ohio State’s student newspaper, received a copy of a 2014 internal investigation by the school that concluded that Bohonyi and the minor engaged in a “consensual romantic relationship” that was a violation of university policy.
Once Appleman learned of the relationship, Bohonyi told the girl they needed to end the relationship and convinced her to change her story so they wouldn’t get in trouble, according to the Lantern.
Despite Bohonyi’s request, the girl turned over Snapchat messages of the conversation to Ohio State investigators, the Lantern reported.
Bohonyi told investigators that the relationship between the two was flirtatious and he “jokingly referred to the 17-year-old as his ‘wife’” and said she “filled the void of girlfriend,” but denied any physical contact between the two, according to the Lantern.
Appleman told investigators that he became aware of the relationship on Aug. 10, 2014, when Bohonyi called to tell him it was just a rumor, but Appleman was later contacted by two parents, Deadspin reported.
Appleman also said that he met with the girl and her mother and the girl detailed how she and Bohonyi had sexual intercourse and engaged in oral sex. In the report, Appleman said that he’d heard from several sources that there had been instances in which the girl “was not truthful,” but he had no “firsthand reason” to doubt her story.
Appleman said that he never saw any inappropriate conduct between Bohonyi and the girl, according to the Lantern.
Investigators determined that there wasn’t enough evidence to prove a sexual relationship existed between the two, but they believed Bohonyi and the girl were involved in a romantic relationship.
They also found that Bohonyi coerced the girl to lie about the circumstances of the relationship, the Lantern reported.