Two-time NCAA champion Abrahm DeVine is accusing his former team at Stanford of homophobia and claiming that he was kicked off the team because he is gay.
“Plain and simple: There are surface-level reasons I was kicked off the Stanford swim team, but I can tell you with certainty that it comes down to the fact that I am gay,” the 2019 graduate of the university wrote in an Instagram post Monday.
DeVine — who won the NCAA championship for the 400-meter individual medley in 2018 and 2019, and represented Team USA at the World Aquatics Championships in South Korea this summer — is one of the few openly gay American swimmers competing at an elite level.
The coaches for Stanford men’s and women’s swim teams, Greg Meehan and Dan Schemmel, denied DeVine’s claims in a joint statement shared with the swimming news site SwimSwam on Tuesday.
“Abe wasn’t invited back to train with us this fall, as a postgraduate, for reasons entirely unrelated to his sexuality,” they stated. “We take pride in the inclusivity and supportiveness that exists on both our men’s and women’s teams, but we will continue to strive, as always, to improve those aspects of our culture.”
In an interview for Swim World Magazine last year, DeVine said his team was loving and accepting after he came out to them as gay. But he also said he was apprehensive about telling them because of the broader culture of homophobia in athletics.
“There’s a culture that is created in a lot of sports where being gay is an insult,” he said at the time. “It’s something that gets tossed around and makes you not want to go to practice or not want to hang out with the team or be a part of the team.”
In his Monday Instagram post, DeVine appeared to take aim at some of the more subtle ways homophobia exists in college athletics. He wrote that his experience is not uncommon among gay college athletes, and that he wants to “encourage everyone to be thoughtful about changing some of the homophobic aspects of the athletic culture that exists today.”
“While I have many specific examples of micro aggressions and outright aggressions that I’ve experienced, homophobia is ultimately much more than an accumulation of experiences. In fact, it is a denial of experience,” he wrote. “I am a talented, successful, educated, proud, gay man: I am a threat to the culture that holds sports teams together.”