Part 3: What the Athletic Department Knew and When

This is part 3 of our series on the women’s cross country team. Part 1 is here, Part 2 is here.

Alongside the alumnae testimonials, we also wanted to provide a timeline that maps out the history of contact between the runners on the cross country team and the Athletic Department. A central theme of this series is to show that the Athletic Department was made aware of the issues of disordered eating and injuries that were perpetuated by Coach Crooke, and yet no changes were made to address the problems. This timeline, which was prepared by Rachel Unger ’15, is intended to shed some light on what exactly the Athletic Department knew and when. The timeline also speaks to the repeated efforts that were made by runners to push for change within the existing system as it stands.

Timeline of Contact with Administration and Coaches:

Spring 2012

Claire Palmer ’14 meets with outgoing athletic director John Biddiscombe and incoming athletic director Mike Whalen to discuss concerns about a culture fostered by Coach Crooke that encourages disordered eating and lack of proper medical care.

Jan 25, 2013

Tess Crain ’12 sends a letter to Mike Whalen and Kirsten Carlson, requested by Coach Crooke, as a part of the review process for his reappointment and promotion. While the letter says positive things about Coach Crooke, it also discusses serious concerns in regards to discussions of weight, disordered eating, high attrition rates, and lack of care for individual student-athletes. The letter quotes several other athletes on the team who have concerns about his coaching.

August 2014

At a pre-season meeting with Coach Crooke, Rachel Unger brings up concerns about how eating and weight are discussed on the team, attempting to dissuade him from discussing “food logs” and weight with younger athletes in an insensitive way.

April 25, 2015

A group of Track & Field team leaders (including both male and female leaders in both the distance and sprint/jump/hurdle/throw groups) meet with Mike Whalen and other administrators. At this meeting, a list of demands was presented to the administration, and one of these demands overlaps what we are demanding now. It read: “The track and field team should have equal access and use of the athletic injury care facilities, this means having a trainer assigned to us and having our requests for filled and not being told that we can’t use the AIC facilities such as ice baths and game ready.”

Furthermore, both a male and female distance runner on the team brought up specific concerns about Coach Crooke at this meeting, to which Mike Whalen responded that Coach Crooke had been at Wesleyan for a long time, and no complaints had ever been brought up before.

Spring 2015

Rachel Unger meets with Coach Crooke to discuss concerns brought up by several underclassmen on the team who wished to voice them anonymously. These concerns were largely tied to Coach Crooke’s differential treatment of women on the team, with most of his attention and communication given to the fastest two runners on the team, while slower and injured runners were largely ignored.

May 2018

Christina Hebner ’17 meets with Rachel Ludwig and Kate Mullen to discuss body shaming and consequential eating disorders on the team.

July 2018 – November 2019

Christina Hebner emails with Rachel Ludwig and Kate Mullen (Mike Whalen CC’ed) to follow up on continued concerns that have not been addressed after the May meeting.


This series was produced by sdz with the help of  fern,  melimaury,  gabs,  and  hen. Special thanks to Yuki Hebner for all of her hard work and coordination, and for bringing this story to Wesleying.

If you have comments or questions, feel free to email us at staff[at]wesleying[dot]org or tweet at us @Wesleying.

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One thought on “Part 3: What the Athletic Department Knew and When

  1. Pingback: Culture of silence leads to eating disorders, injuries for Wesleyan University cross-country team - Canadian Running Magazine

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