As reporters and parents pressed Towson University for details about a phone that was discovered recording swim team members in a pool locker room in October, campus officials focused on limiting the flow of information, according to emails reviewed by The Baltimore Sun.
According to the emails provided in a public records request, a parent wrote to campus officials the day the phone was discovered, saying their daughter relayed "disturbing" information about "inappropriate behavior of the diving coach" and asking for more information. That parent followed up the next morning: "If there is any truth in this matter, I would hope I would hear something from the school before reading about it in the news."
The university provided dozens of emails to The Sun and other news organizations in response to the requests. The emails, between swim coaches and university administrators, cover the week after the phone was discovered in the women's team locker room in Burdick Hall on Oct. 16.
Maureen Mead, who was the team's diving coach, was indicted in Baltimore County Circuit Court on Nov. 23 on charges of interception of communication, peeping Tom and altering evidence. She is on paid administrative leave.
Mead's husband, head coach Pat Mead, and an assistant coach, Adrienne Phillips, are no longer listed as team coaches on the team's website. Another assistant, Jake Shrum, has been named interim head coach, and the university brought in Tim Perkins to coach the divers.
The day after the phone was discovered in the locker room, reporters began calling and emailing the university's police department and communications staff, seeking information.
All of the requests were funneled to Marina Cooper, deputy chief of staff to the university's interim president, Timothy J.L. Chandler. Cooper responded with a brief statement with few details about the incident.
Cooper sent out a second media update several days later, adding only that the recording was limited to the team locker room, which has restricted access.
"Prepare for impact — just went out," Cooper wrote to members of the communications staff after sending the update.
Ray Feldmann, a spokesman for the university, responded to remind the others to caution against speculation. "I know that may be frustrating to some who want answers in under 60 minutes because that's what happens on CSI. But that's not the reality we're dealing with," he wrote.
Feldmann added that "at some point we need to do on-camera TV interviews, but I respect that we're probably not there yet."
Cooper replied: "Yes, agreed on all fronts — and yes not there yet. Everyone has been good and quiet."
University officials also drafted a statement to members of the university's Board of Visitors and a statement that swim team members could send to their parents. Neither statement offered substantial information about the incident or the investigation.
In the days after the phone's discovery, some athletes and parents wrote emails expressing frustration.
"I do not like how this is being handled," one team member wrote to Debbie Seeberger, an official in the president's office who had met with the team.
Another team member wrote to Seeberger: "I am in the video and would like to meet with you to express my concern about the situation. ... I, along with my teammates, do not think that this is being handled in the way that it should be."
A parent wrote to Pat Mead complaining about a lack of information. "I do have concerns related to the poor communication from the University to parents. ... We recognize that there is an ongoing investigation, however, communication is needed. Parents should not have to find out news from social media," the parent wrote.
Some swim team parents were supportive.
"We are thinking of you, Maureen and the kids," one parent wrote to Pat Mead. "I am sure that taking care of your family is not easy right now and we are so sorry that this is happening."
Another wrote to athletic director Tim Leonard: "Pat is known to be a no-nonsense coach who expects the most from his swimmers and holds them to a high standard. ... He works the kids very hard and my daughter believes this is how he can take average swimmers and make them great swimmers."
On Friday, the university named Kim E. Schatzel, previously of Eastern Michigan University, as its new president.