Accounts of a coach engaging in impermissible relationships with his student-athletes, drinking alcohol at practice, and scoffing at the health of women team members present a misleading depiction, Studer and Barnes insist, of the culture in which they spent a good chunk of their lives as young adults.
"That’s not our team," said Studer, a distance runner. "That’s not the team that’s going to be running fast. We’ve moved on from all of that.
"We’re not like that."
Added Barnes, a distance runner from Northview: "We want to get across that we’re moving on, and we’re ready for whoever they bring in [as coach]. Coach Hadsell didn’t define what UT cross country and track and field is all about."
Revelations publicized last week showed that 15-year head coach Kevin Hadsell resigned after the university learned of his sending sexually laced text messages to one of his athletes, All-America runner Emma Kertesz, and that he was involved romantically with former athletes. Hadsell wrote in an October text message to Kertesz, "I’m into you."
"It’s really hard to balance your thoughts about the guy you ran for for three or four years and also try to visualize what he was doing behind the scenes," Barnes said. "It’s been pretty difficult."
The Web site deadspin.com reported that Hadsell drank alcohol at practice, of which the coach admitted to The Blade to be true.
However, he denies charges that he drove the team van while drunk, insisting he was not drunk on a New York trip after having "four or five" drinks in a period of five hours.
Studer and Barnes said they never witnessed Hadsell drive drunk or furnish alcohol for minors on the team, another charge made by the Web site. Hadsell called the accusation misleading, saying he visited a bar with team members after a meet in 2011 and later learned that one of the athletes was not of age.
Studer also disagrees with the assertion, made by an anonymous team member, that Hadsell promoted a culture of eating disorders. Studer added that Hadsell’s aversion for birth control was out of concern for female runners, who might face considerable challenges competing with extra hormones in their bodies.
"We’ve had many meetings, many open meetings, many individual meetings, to make sure everyone was healthy," Studer said.
The women this weekend will head to Eastern Michigan for the indoor Mid-American Conference track and field championships, a meet the cross-country centric program never won under Hadsell.
That is not expected to change this year given the departure of Kertesz, who turned professional, and the absences of several others, including Studer, who are redshirting due to injuries.
"We just hope that the MAC respects us enough to not say anything and just let us compete," Studer said. "Everyone on the team, we didn’t have anything to do with this."
Contact Ryan Autullo at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6160 or on Twitter @AutulloBlade.