Stanford Swimmer Abrahm DeVine Claims He Was Kicked Off Team Because He's Gay

Photo: Instagram
Who Is Abrahm DeVine? New Details On Stanford Swimmer Kicked Off Team Because He's Gay

The Stanford swimming program is no stranger to controversy — Brock Turner was famously swimming for the team before he brutally raped Chantel MIller in 2015. Now, the team is facing allegations of homophobia. Abrahm DeVine is one of the top swimmers in the country and he swam for Stanford for his entire undergraduate career. He was hoping to continue to train at the school as a postgraduate but they didn't invite him to do so. Now, he has made the explosive allegation that the reason he wasn't invited back was because he is gay. 

The school adamantly denies that homophobia played a role in their decision to cut DeVine. 

Who is Abrahm DeVine and why was he kicked off the team? read on for all the details.

1. A top-level swimmer

There can be no argument that DeVine isn't a champion in the sport of swimming. The website SwimSwam notes that he was a member of the United States’ 2017 and 2019 FINA World Championships teams, finishing in the top ten at each event. The site writes that "He also finished second to Chase Kalisz in the 200 IM at U.S. Summer Nationals in 2018, qualifying for Pan Pacs later that summer, where he finished fifth in the event." He was named the PAC-10 Swimmer of the year in 2018, the same year he publicly came out as gay. He had been swimming for Stanford for his entire NCAA career and he planned to continue training at the university after graduating in June of 2019. 

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2. Coming out as gay

In 2018, he did an interview with Swimming World magazine where he talked about his rise to the top of his division in the sport and how he had trouble balancing his emotions as an elite athlete and a gay person. “I’m a gay athlete. There aren’t too many of us, so when I came out to my college team, that was a really tough time for me,” DeVine said. The magazine recognizes that there are very few openly gay athletes swimming at the highest levels of the sport. DeVine was hesitant to come out and worried that he wouldn't be accepted by his teammates and coaches, but he discovered quickly that his worst fears were unfounded. “I remember that being a pretty emotional time, and just feeling my whole team wrap around me and feeling that love in a place where I hadn’t really felt it, that was definitely pretty special for me,” DeVine said. “Just seeing them kind of prove me wrong was definitely special, something I’ll never forget.”

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3. Planning for the future as a swimmer

DeVine finished his college career in the spring of 2019 and he told Swimming World that he had been unsure about continuing as a professional because he enjoyed the experience of swimming with a team, rather than being a solo athlete. "I wasn’t really sure if I was going to keep going after college, just because I think it is going to be really hard," he said. Ultimately, his love of the sport outweighed his worries about not being part of the team. "It will be different, but I think I will look for ways to make it fun and exciting," he said, "Instead of being scared of how different it will be, I’m going to try to find things to get excited for." 

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4. Training as a pro

He was training as a professional at Stanford after graduation, but in August, he moved to Team Elite Aquatics in San Diego, according to the Washington Post. There was no explanation given for the move, but it followed coaching changes at Stanford. SwimSwan reports that new head coach Dan Schemmel took over the program after the previous coach retired in May. At the same time, Jeff Kostoff, who had been DeVine’s primary coach as an undergraduate, left Stanford to go coach at the University of Minnesota in August. It was after all of these changes that DeVine left the program.

He had been training in Stanford's pro group as recently as May.

5. "It comes down to the fact that I am gay."

Now, in a shocking Instagram post, DeVine says that the reason he moved to a new training facility is because Stanford gave him the boot over his sexuality. "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," he wrote. "This is a pattern. Homophobia is systematic, intelligently and masterfully designed to keep me silent and to push me out. I am a talented, successful, educated, proud, gay man: I am a threat to the culture that holds sports teams together."

DeVine didn't give details on what made him certain that homophobia was the driving factor in Stanford's decision to cut him. "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," he says.

His post doesn't explain what experiences he means, nor does he state the official reasons Stanford gave for cutting him. While the emotion behind his words is clear and genuine, the vagueness of the post makes it hard to understand what precisely happened to make DeVine feel so hurt. 

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He shared a heartfelt post about his experience with homophobia in his sport.

6. No explanation from Stanford

The coaching staff at Stanford isn't shedding much light on the situation either. The front office categorically denies that homophobia was the reason for DeVine's exit but they also don't explain why he wasn't invited back. “It is truly unfortunate Abe feels this way,” the statement from the school read. “That said, Abe wasn’t invited back to train with us this fall, as a postgraduate, for reasons entirely unrelated to his sexuality. 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.” 

It's totally unclear whether the official story behind the decision had to do with DeVine's performance as a swimmer, the new coaching staff, or something else altogether. 

DeVine has followed up his original Instagram post with more IG stories about the situation, according to People. He said that he isn't looking to cost anyone their jobs; he just wanted to share his experience in the hopes of showing others how gay athletes are treated. 

Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. Her work has been seen at Ravishly, Babble, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Redbook online, and The Broad Side. She is the creator of the blog Stay at Home Pundit and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.