Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics has leveled an eight-year suspension to one of its more high-profile coaches, Maggie Haney, the longtime former coach of 2016 Olympic gold medalist Laurie Hernandez, following a hearing into complaints that she verbally and emotionally abused her gymnasts.
USA Gymnastics confirmed the suspension, which was first reported by the Orange County Register, Wednesday night.
Haney, 42, had been placed on interim suspension in January following complaints about her methods by gymnasts and parents alike, who reported that she berated and fat-shamed young gymnasts and demanded some practice and compete while injured.
Until recently, Haney, a former gymnast at North Carolina State University who is head coach at MG Elite Gymnastics in Monmouth Junction, New Jersey, also coached 2018 world champion and 2021 Tokyo Olympic hopeful Riley McCusker. McCusker now trains alongside fellow U.S. national team member Jade Carey at Arizona Sunrays, where Carey’s father is their coach.
Hernandez, now 19, was a member of the Final Five that won the prestigious team gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Just 16 at the time, she also claimed silver on the balance beam.
After taking an extended break from the sport, which included a season on “Dancing with the Stars,” Hernandez resumed training with a different coach in southern California with an eye toward making the 2021 Olympics.
The eight-year suspension takes effect immediately and will be followed by two additional years of suspension, USA gymnastics said in a statement.
The decision, made by a three-member independent hearing panel, followed a Safe Sport hearing panel. The panel, which included an attorney, a club owner and former national team athlete, concluded that Haney violated the USA Gymnastics Code Ethical Conduct, Safe Sport Policy, and other policies.
As a result, the statement read, Haney will not be allowed to coach any USA Gymnastics athletes or in member clubs for eight years, followed by the two-year probation. She may reapply for membership and coaching privileges after the suspension ends by submitting proof of completing certain specified Safe Sport courses.